A $700,000 multi-sports facility could be coming to Ford Park. Jefferson County Commissioners will make that call Monday. Those behind the proposal say it's a win-win. The cost of the facility would be paid out of pocket and the county would make money off the lease agreement.
The proposed building site would be next to Gulf Coast RV Resort. Larry Tillery, one of the men behind the proposal, says the facility would draw people to Ford Park, enhancing the profitability of the area. Right now, Southeast Texas Baseball Academy (SETBA) operates just yards away.
Austin Hitchcock, 10, is the catcher for the Beaumont Piranhas. He attends private lessons at SETBA.
"I love baseball. And when I get to play baseball, I'm happy."
His mother, Crystal Allen says baseball is huge in their family, but doesn't think a neighboring facility wouldn't change their routine much.
"I guess it would bring in more people. I don't know that we would move. We would probably stay where we've been...If it brought more people to the game of baseball, and gave them opportunity, I mean it might be alright," Allen said.
Opportunity is what those behind the proposal hope the facility will give area children. Tillery says the facility would give young athletes the chance to connect with affordable teams and to practice their technique.
But, the owner of SETBA says he's noticed a different need in the baseball community.
Jason Tyner said, "There's a huge need for ages 13 to 18. You know, if they do do a second facility, I hope they don't do it on the land that they need for bigger fields... [because] that's what brings people to hotel, that's what brings people to restaurants, I mean, it's been that way for 12 years. And we're to the point now where we just need more fields."
Tillery says if he gets a chance to start construction, the facility should be up and running in just 5 months. The 18,000 sq. ft. building would be used for softball, baseball, football, kick ball and wuffle ball. There would be areas for strength, conditioning, speed and agility work. There's also talk of setting up monthly camps and clinics. All of these amenities would be climate controlled and available 7 days a week.