The use of advertising signs in the outfields of many baseball diamonds is reminiscent of an era gone by, but for Muskego's newest park, it may also mean they will be yelling "Play ball' much sooner.
The Parks and Recreation Board Monday backed an ambitious proposal by the Muskego Warriors Youth Baseball league to raise money to fund the entire cost of the large field at , which features 90-foot base paths.
The project is expected to cost $70,000 to $75,000, and has generated a lot of interest among select leagues that are growing and don't enough diamonds to play on.
"We have at least six teams in the U-13 leagues that are looking for fields in the city, and will likely have more in the coming year," explained Frank Cistaro, of the Warriors.
The group suggested a three-prong approach to funding the development, including fundraisers, donations and sponsorships. The latter would include the use of signage along portions of the outfield fence, behind dugouts and behind home plate.
In exchange, the Warriors are asking for first priority usage of the field, meaning it would name the days they needed for practice and play. "We are looking for nothing with regard to funding for the organization in the way of uniforms or equipment," Cistaro told the board.
He said the basic size of an advertising banner would be 30 inches by 24 inches per panel, at a cost of approximately $1,500 over three years. He told the parks board that he has already received strong verbal commitments from six to 10 parties, and felt that they could secure 100 percent funding by the end of July. Cistaro estimated as many as 65 to 70 opportunities for signage existed around the field.
Money from ongoing sponsorships could also be applied to the cost of lighting for the field, likely in the next two or three years.
Board member Jerald Hulbert raised some concerns over how the money raised would be "protected: from being spent elsewhere.
"Council members come and go, and knowing the money isn't in any segregated 'lock box', I wonder what is to prevent monkeying around in order to fund other park projects at the council level," he asked.
However, Parks Director Craig Anderson said written agreements and similar accounts that have been marked for specific purposes cannot be touched as they are not part of the parks operating budget. He pointed to scholarship accounts that can only be used to assist participants who want to take part in programs as such an example.
Sponsorships already exist at in Muskego, also through efforts of Warrior Youth baseball. Other facilities in Sun Prairie and more locally at Waukesha's 5 Diamonds complex (also under construction to be opened this year) were built with similar partnerships and will feature banner advertising. In addition, members of the baseball league said sponsors have inquired about extending signage to other little league fields at Park Arthur, and possibly securing naming rights to the large field.
The board approved the initial proposal, with further detail to be formalized in a written agreement in the following weeks.