Teams may move to drier fields

EAST PALESTINE — The school district is exploring the possibility of moving its baseball and softball games and practices to an athletic facility in Unity Township.

Superintendent Traci Hostetler said during the Monday board of education meeting that moving the sports to the Next Level sports facility will benefit the district in a variety of ways.

Currently, baseball and softball teams compete and practice at the local park, which is generally cleaned and mowed by the district before the regular season.

Hostetler said that using the facility will provide the district with reliable fields that drain storm water well and fewer athletic cancellations as a result.

The condition of the ballfields, including drainage issues, at the park has been discussed both by school and village officials over the last few years. Neither the school district nor the park earn any income from hosting games at the park.

Hostetler said that the Next Level facility has the opportunity for a concession stand that would benefit the district.

Other benefits include a paved lot for easier access for fans, ample free parking, dugouts to house the whole team and no more field maintenance, she said.

She also said the facility has four softball/little league fields, one pony field for 13- and 14-year-olds, and two high school fields – one for practice and one for games.

If the move is approved, it would result in a minimal cost savings, but Hostetler believes the overall benefits are worth pursuing.

“Our first offer to use the fields will net a small savings of only $10 compared to the money we have spent maintaining the fields at the park. Mr. Jim Vance has been amazing, and he has worked with our athletic director (Dwyane Pavkovich) to make it beneficial on multiple levels for our athletic program,” she said.