Sports

Building a ‘Field of Dreams’ on Redmond Ridge

Redmond North Little League is leading an effort to raise money to renovate the fields at Redmond Ridge Park. From left, top: JD Klein, Eric Tibbs. Middle: Bas Hertogh, Spencer Klein, Nicholas Fazio, Colby Fazio. Front: Harrison Klein, Luke Tibbs, Arianna Tibbs, Whitney Klein. - Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter
Redmond North Little League is leading an effort to raise money to renovate the fields at Redmond Ridge Park. From left, top: JD Klein, Eric Tibbs. Middle: Bas Hertogh, Spencer Klein, Nicholas Fazio, Colby Fazio. Front: Harrison Klein, Luke Tibbs, Arianna Tibbs, Whitney Klein.
— image credit: Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter

“If you build it, he will come.”

These seven simple words, coming from a disembodied voice in the middle of a cornfield, prompt Kevin Costner to build a baseball field where he eventually plays catch with his long-estranged father.

And while J.D. Klein may not be looking to heal any damaged relationships, he is leading an effort on Redmond Ridge to build their own “Field of Dreams” that will bring people together.

As president of Redmond North Little League (RNLL), Klein is working with King County to raise funds to convert the baseball and soccer fields at Redmond Ridge Park, 22915 N.E. Alder Crest Drive, to turf fields to increase their playability throughout the year. Currently, the fields are dirt and sand, which Klein said often get too muddy to play on in the perpetually wet Pacific Northwest weather.

As a result, RNLL partners with the City of Redmond and King County to use the ball fields at Hartman Park on Education Hill and Marymoor Park outside of Redmond. While these partnerships work well, Klein said RNLL families are driving anywhere between eight and 12 miles round trip just to play ball.

“They spend a lot of time driving,” he said.

Beth Fazio, whose 11- and 12-year-old sons play for RNLL, said having an available field nearby would be a great time saver — especially for families with multiple children with multiple and often overlapping schedules.

“It’s way more convenient to stay closer to home,” she said.

Fazio added that having a newly renovated facility would also create excitement and increase demand in terms of field use.

Klein said this is one of the goals of the conversion. With all-weather, all-season fields, other sports leagues — not just baseball — will be encouraged to utilize them.

“This isn’t really about baseball or Little League,” he said. “It’s about bringing an all-weather sports field to the area.”

Redmond Ridge Park is the only park of its kind in the area and with a population of about 30,000 and growing, Klein said there is a need for playable fields.

“The area definitely needs more fields and can support more teams playing up there,” he said.

Although the project is to renovate sports fields, it goes beyond that. If sports leagues were able to hold games and tournaments at Redmond Ridge Park, businesses would benefit from the influx of potential customers to the area.

“I think it’ll be a great asset for the whole community,” Fazio said.

Because of this, Klein said it is going to take more than just RNLL to get the conversion done.

Fazio agreed.

“It’s going to take the whole community,” she said.

The cost to renovate both fields is about $1.7 million.

The project is divided into two phases. Phase One will be converting the baseball field. Klein said this phase is already funded thanks to donations from private donors and businesses, as well as some grants.

Phase Two will be converting the soccer field, which would be able to double as two baseball fields, as well. Klein said they still need to raise the funds for this phase. According to Renovate.The.Ridge, a website set up for people to donate to the project, the goal is to raise $60,000 by the end of February. For more information or to donate, visit renovatetheridge.wordpress.com.

In addition to these private donations, Klein and RNLL are working with the county’s Community Partnership and Grants (CPG) program to raise money. CPG is King County’s tool to empower community groups to plan, design and construct new public recreation facilities on county land.

Program manager T.J. Davis said one of the results of these partnerships is that capital projects get done for less in terms of county funding.

“It just opens a lot more opportunities,” he said, explaining how many organizations they work with are nonprofits and can tap into resources the county wouldn’t be able to.

Davis added that when a community takes an active role in building a facility, they take ownership and will look after things for the county. He said this helps keep county facilities looking good — especially as King County staff may not be able to get to things immediately — and they are excited this will be happening at Redmond Ridge Park.

“We’re excited that we’re going to get some much-needed love up there,” Davis said.

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