Tampa Bay Rays, Waste Pro consider Palmetto Little League donations

skennedy@bradenton.comJuly 19, 2013 

PALMETTO -- County officials are continuing talks with at least two potential donors to the $3.3 million Little League complex under construction at Blackstone Park: the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team and Waste Pro Inc., a waste hauler and recycler serving the area.

The Rays have said they intend to make a contribution, but it's unclear exactly what it might be, according to Cindy Turner, director of Manatee County parks and recreation.

"The Rays have said they will not make a monetary contribution, but will help in some way," Turner said Thursday.

"As far as Waste Pro, they have expressed interest, but have not committed to a dollar amount," she said. "We are still in dialogue with both entities, and hope to know something soon."

Rick Vaughn, Rays vice president for communications, could not be reached for comment.

Ron Pecora, Waste Pro senior vice president, said his company is still vetting the Little League's request.

Discussions with the Rays have been ongoing, said Derek Goforth, president of Palmetto Little League, which will use the three new regulation fields at the park when completed in fall 2014.

"We have not heard anything back from the Rays," Goforth said. "I know we've been in discussions with them; they had been wanting me to talk to them about some kind of donation to fund the scoreboard for the three fields. We talked to them several times about that."

The team is looking into many different options, he said.

A similar process is going on at Waste Pro for the Little League ballfields project, Pecora said.

"The only thing I can tell you is, it's on a list of requests," he said. "I wish I could say 'yes' but it's not the case. We have not decided, and we haven't done enough internal looking to be able to decide this.

"If there's any way we could do it, we'd love to, but these things require a lot of money," he added.

The project, which began in March, calls for three regulation Little League fields, parking lot, press box and concession building, bleachers, sidewalks, lighting and associated infrastructure at Blackstone Field, east and north of the Blackstone Park softball fields. The county is paying for the project using Parks and Recreation Department impact fees; an $800,000 contribution from the city of Palmetto and a $75,000 contribution from the Pittsburgh Pirates Foundation, officials have said. The Little League has been without ballfields for more than four years after the city sold its land to the Manatee County School Board for construction of Palmetto Elementary School.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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