The Basing Hill Ballpark project was completed on June 20th but, with a busy schedule of league games and events, it wasn’t until last Sunday, October 1st, that the club found an available date in the calendar to mark the occasion.
Barnet Councillors, Anne Clarke, Giulia Innocenti and Nigel Young were the guests of honour and they threw out the ceremonial first pitch during the opening games of the 2023 Hunlock Series. During the ceremony the club expressed its gratitude to club members, the wider British and international baseball community, local residents and the many who contributed in various capacities – from grounds crew volunteers to architects.
The club highlighted the fantastic support of London Borough of Barnet councillors and members of staff from various departments. Councillor Peter Zinkin was overseas and wasn’t able to attend. He played a key part sponsoring the club’s Area Committee funding application.
The first phase of the project was to level and resurface the playing field with new grass. That was implemented in September and October 2021 by the contractor Inscapes and it was time to move to phase two.
The club, with the help of Sport England, club members and the wider community successfully reached the £20,068 crowdfunding target in April 2022 and the London Borough of Barnet planning department granted the planning permission for the second phase of the project to commence.
In the summer of 2022 the club secured the services of several fantastic contractors. Galldris Group, who have been busy across the street with the huge Brent Cross Town development, implemented the excavation of the infield cutout areas around the bases and the pitcher’s mound.
Working on a very tight budget, the club relied on its own members and volunteers to do the heavy lifting of laying the 20 tonnes of sub-base and 40 tonnes of infield mix onto the cutout areas.
They somehow managed to avoid disruption to the youth and adult league schedules by squeezing all of this work into the five days between two weekends packed with games.
The first games on the new infield was the Triple-A League clash between the Herts Cardinals and the Cambridge Monarchs on 26 June, pictured above.
The mound clay blocks were installed on the pitcher’s mound and the batters’ and catcher’s boxes a week later.
The installation of the baseball backstop was completed by contractors Tate and Tonbridge Fencing in August 2022.
The last remaining step was the installation of the spectator rails on the first and third base side of the infield. With steel and fuel prices rising, the cost of this increased by 30% which delayed this final stage of the project.
It was completed successfully on 20 June 2023, just in time for an MLB Youth Baseball Clinic which Basing Hill Ballpark was selected to host.
It featured MLB stars, David Eckstein and Jake Arrieta – both World Series winners with St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, respectively. This was part of the 2023 MLB London Series events which culminated with the Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals playing two official league games at the London Stadium on that weekend.
It will be interesting to see how this purpose-built baseball venue will develop in the coming years. Will there be more upgrades? With so many new players joining every year there already are four league teams playing at Basing Hill Ballpark so the venue will reach full capacity in the next few years. The club may need to replicate this project to avoid having to put new players on a waiting list.