January 30, 2010
MUSKEGON — In a move they are hailing as a home run, Muskegon city commissioners have reached an agreement with the Lakeshore Baseball Club LLC to operate, maintain and improve Marsh Field.
Commissioners last week unanimously approved a three-year contract with an organization led by two local, longtime amateur baseball promoters. Money will not change hands between the club and city but both expect to benefit.
The city will get a group passionate about promoting baseball and willing to restore some of the glory to historic Marsh Field at Laketon Avenue and Peck Street. The Lakeshore Baseball Club will get a baseball field and revenues generated from the facility from tickets, concessions and advertising.
The city will save on maintenance and operating costs while having a private group improve the field and its facility. The city will still own the field.
Marsh Field improvements by the Lakeshore Baseball Club over the next three years:
• Infield upgrades (already under way)
• Renetting backstop
• Renovate dugouts
• Field lighting upgrades
• Grandstand and seating improvements
• Scoreboard upgrades
— Source: City of Muskegon agreement with Lakeshore Baseball Club
The Lakeshore Baseball Club is led by Pete Gawkowski and Len Piasecki. Gawkowski owns and operates Extra Innings — a Norton Shores indoor baseball training facility — and owns local Subway sandwich shops. Piasecki heads the Muskegon ChannelCats travel youth baseball club.
The Marsh Field agreement resolves several issues for commissioners. The first is continued public access to the Marsh Field parking lot, children’s playground and walking path.
“In the agreement, the track, parking lot gate and ‘tot lot’ will continue to remain open to the public,” Gawkowski told commissioners. “Nothing will change. We will be only inside the baseball field fences.”
The Muskegon Big Reds high school baseball program will continue to use Marsh Field for practice and games free of charge, City Manager Bryon Mazade said. Also, the contract allows Muskegon-area Little League organizations to use the field free of charge for all-star events.
The Lakeshore Baseball Club also will use Marsh Field for various baseball and softball youth camps. Those activities will be open to city of Muskegon youth, free of charge, the contract states.
Lakeshore Baseball Club hopes to improve the field that dates back nearly 100 years and in its heyday was a minor league baseball park for both men’s and women’s teams. The club also will boost the field’s use. It will conduct spring, summer and fall league games for teams along the lakeshore and hold regional and state tournaments on weekends.
“We love the fact that you are taking care of upgrades to Marsh Field and maintenance that the city right now can’t afford,” Commissioner Larry Spataro said.