Bradenton Marauders and Palmetto partner to help North River American Little League

mvalverde@bradenton.comAugust 23, 2012 

PALMETTO -- The Bradenton Marauders and the city of Palmetto are partnering to support the North River American Little League by giving the league $3 of every pre-purchased $5 ticket for the Aug. 28 Marauders game.

Money from tickets bought at the box office the day of the game will not go toward the cause.

"It will help with overall costs of running the league in the fall, day-to-day operations, some newer equipment for some of the teams," said Derek Goforth, North River American Little League president. "We are not quite sure how much to expect, $3 a ticket, that's a pretty good portion. We're just looking at it as an opportunity that we don't always get."

The Marauders, the Pittsburgh Pirates' Single-A affiliate, will be celebrating City of Palmetto Night and are hoping for a large turnout Tuesday at McKechnie Field.

It is the first time the Little League will be the designated recipient of funds from this type of event.

"With all the challenges the North River American Little League is having with their fields and locations ... it was important for the mayor to partner with them and it's a good fit for us as well. We have a strong relationship with all the Little Leagues in the county," said Stacy Morgan, sales and marketing coordinator of Florida operations for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The North River American Little League has been playing at adult softball fields at Blackstone Park in Palmetto for several years. The league's previous fields are now the site of a new Palmetto Elementary School.

Palmetto has examined several locations for replacement fields, but high property costs and arsenic contamination at some of the sites have delayed construction. In May, a proposed site for construction near Blackstone Park was deemed unfavorable due to pesticide residual from previous years of farming. It was then recommended that plans to construct there be reconsidered.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has discussed with the county final environmental assessment reports, and a consultant is now working to provide Manatee County estimates for costs and timelines, said Nicholas Azzara, the county's information outreach coordinator. The consultant was asked to have the estimates by next week, Azzara said.

"Natural resources (department) has a pretty firm understanding of DEP's expectations for the land," Azzara said. "They're going to be part of the conversation when a recommendation is made to the county administrator and ultimately to the board of county commissioners."

There are two scenarios to be explored: one of them is to build softball fields at another county park and then turn the Blackstone softball fields into Little League fields. The other option is to build Little League fields at the proposed site where levels of contamination were found.

"Part of the consideration for the two scenarios involve a remediation factor," Azzara said.

Morgan said the Little League's lack of permanent fields is a situation the Pirates and Marauders are "watching closely."

"We obviously want to see the league find a permanent home and be able to keep, maintain and attract new participants in both baseball and softball," she said.

Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said she hoped to make the Palmetto night celebration at McKechnie an annual tradition.

"It's really something to try to benefit the youth," she said of the upcoming event, adding that there are a lot of expenses involved with running a youth program.

Businesses who want to promote themselves at the game can also pay $150 for tables; $25 of that fee will automatically go to the Little League and the Marauders will match it by contributing $25.

The first 1,000 people to make it through the gates at McKechnie Field will also get a free Trevor Gooby Bobble Baby. The bobble figurine features Gooby, senior director of Florida operations for the Pittsburgh Pirates, holding a baby up in the air "Lion King style," said Morgan.

On Feb. 28, Gooby helped deliver a baby at McKechnie Field when the expectant mother could not wait for emergency assistance. The baby was named McKechnie.

City officials are selling game tickets. They can also be bought at Palmetto City Hall, 516 Eighth Ave. W. till Aug. 27. For more information on buying tickets and tables for businesses call Stacy Morgan at 941-747-3031, ext. 4365.

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