Three weeks ago, when Manatee East Little League hosted the Section 4 All-Star Tournament, fans who traveled from out of town to Lakewood Ranch raved about the way the organization maintained its four baseball fields.
They also enjoyed the cheeseburgers, hot dogs and everything else that came from inside the dilapidated concession stands at the Little League complex.
But there were some complaints as well. Like the fact they had to keep score at three of the four fields because there were no scoreboards. The concession stands had good food, but they looked worn down. There’s no air conditioning in the sheds, and the wooden shelves inside the stands are falling apart.
“I heard people talking,” Allen Steinfeld said. “I said to myself, ‘We are not far away from having new concession stands and scoreboards.’ I just told them when they return here, things will be different.”
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For the past two years, Steinfeld, a Manatee East Little League board member, has spearheaded the charge of bringing the East Manatee youth baseball organization new concession stands and scoreboards. And the project is on the verge of being a reality.
This fall, Manatee East hopes to break ground on a two-story concession stand/press box and will install three scoreboards.
The new structure will be 1,800 square feet, with restrooms and a view of all four fields from the press box.
The project will cost an estimated $145,000. Steinfeld said Manatee East raised $10,000, the county is providing $100,000, and an anonymous donor gave $30,000.
County Commissioner Donna Hayes said commissioners were happy to help the organization, but they also wanted to see some initiative from the organization before the county dug into its pocketbook.
“We wanted them to bring together the plans, and show us exactly what their plans were for the concession stands,” said Hayes, a representative of District 5. “They were able to have an architect provide the drawings at a very minimal cost, and they showed their efforts in being able to have some fundraisers. It’s a very good example of a public-private partnership, and we are all working together to make the concession stands happen.”
However, Hayes did say, “if the cost of building the facility should increase for some reason, they realize they are responsible for funding additional funds.”
County commissioners agreed to help with funding before adjourning for the summer.
With the way coaches and parents have united, a financial problem shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance.
A local roofing company will donate supplies. Paint has been donated. The Home Depot off University Parkway is working to help Manatee East receive a $2,000 grant and is also selling the organization wood at a discounted price.
And Doug Myers, a coach with Manatee East and owner of a construction company bearing his name, is helping with architecture and labor.
“It was like finally, we did it,” Steinfeld said. “I called all of my fellow board members, and they were excited. We are thankful all of the coaches, parents and various businesses are helping out.”