Herts Baseball Club has been awarded a grant of £10,000 from BaseballSoftballUK‘s capital facility funding from Sport England.
This grant, together with nearly £7,000 raised separately by Herts through various fund-raising activities, will be invested into the next stage of development of Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead, creating one of the most advanced baseball and softball venues currently in existence in the United Kingdom.
The baseball facility at Herts was created in the early 1990s. In those early years it consisted of a single baseball diamond with a backstop and dirt infield, hosting games for the club’s one adult baseball team. Since then, Herts Baseball Club has seen unprecedented growth and has become one of the biggest baseball organisations in Great Britain with eight baseball teams — four senior and four youth — playing in various British senior and youth leagues. The facility was no longer capable of accommodating so many teams and the club had to put in place a plan for the long-term expansion and development of the venue.
With funding and support from BSUK, the National Lottery, Dacorum Borough Council, Dacorum Sports Network, Scotthall Watford BMW and MINI and many others, a second baseball field was added in 2010 and both diamonds now feature permanent backstops and permanent outfield fences – the only such facility in the UK.
BSUK’s decision to award the £10,000 grant to Herts Baseball Club is in line with BSUK’s 2009-2013 Whole Sport Plan and Sport England’s strategic aims for the sport. The funds will be invested in the installation of perimeter fencing along the first and third base dead-ball lines of both diamonds, making each diamond a fully-enclosed baseball venue. Further fencing will be installed to create four fully-enclosed team dugouts for home and visiting teams on both diamonds. Work is scheduled to begin on 26 March 2012.
This phase of the long-term project will bring the venue a little closer to the standards set by countries such as the USA and Japan, and start to make up lost ground on fast-growing European baseball countries such as Germany, Holland and Italy.
“BSUK is delighted to award Herts Baseball Club £10,000 towards their facility improvements,” said Brendan Cunliffe, Development Logistics Manager for BaseballSoftballUK. “Herts Baseball Club is a progressive and well-governed club and the improvements they are continuing to make to their already excellent facilities will attract new adult and youth club members in the Hemel Hempstead area, increase the baseball playing population in the UK, and raise the satisfaction of all players visiting the site over the coming years.”
Herts Baseball Club President, Aspi Dimitrov said: “Baseball and softball facilities in the UK have remained underdeveloped over the years and BSUK identified that this is stopping our sport from realising its full potential. BSUK’s Facility Strategy in the last few years has energised the British baseball and softball communities, giving clubs around the country the capacity to grow and offer a much better product to participants”.
“No matter how hard clubs try on their own, the progress being made at the moment would not be possible without BSUK’s support,” Aspi added, “not just in terms of funding but also in expert advice and guidance in developing these facilities”.
“This announcement is a tremendous boost not only for the Hertfordshire public, but for the whole British baseball and softball community, who will be able to enjoy the benefits of this investment for many years when they come to Grovehill Ballpark for league, tournament, exhibition and international games and events.”
About BaseballSoftballUK Ltd (BSUK)
BaseballSoftballUK Ltd is the development agency for baseball and softball in the United Kingdom. Since 2000, BSUK has provided services to the sports’ governing bodies, the British Baseball Federation (BBF) and the British Softball Federation (BSF), with the aim of developing and increasing levels of participation, skill and achievement in UK baseball and softball. Projects delivered through BSUK’s Whole Sport Plan, funded by Sport England, include regional support for youth baseball and softball development programmes, support for workplace softball, coaching and coach-training, facility development and the expansion and strengthening of clubs throughout the country.
For more information about BSUK visit baseballsoftballuk.com