Visit Kingsport Executive Director Jud Teague, who has spearheaded the endeavor since the beginning, said the project turned out better than anyone could have imagined.
“It’s hard to put any words to it. ... We took some of the best ideas from other (facilities) and made it our own,” Teague said.
A Miracle League Field is a baseball field built to accommodate special needs children and young adults, but such facilities also serve seniors and wounded warriors. Teague, a former high school baseball coach, was motivated by his son Nicholas (who has Down syndrome) to bring a Miracle League Field to the Model City.
The complex is 99% complete with only a few “punch list” items remaining, such as touching up painting or repairing scratched surfaces, Teague said. Visit Kingsport is aiming for a June 27 ribbon cutting, possibly with some exhibition innings for good measure.
“We’re going to try and have some kids play an inning or two and maybe even a whiffle ball game to show folks the field can be used for more than just special needs kids,” Teague said. “And if we can’t have it June 27 (due to coronavirus regulations), we’ll have it July 11.”
Visit Kingsport is also planning to organize a fall league for the new facility, starting in mid-August if coronavirus regulations will allow it. If you wish to participate in the league, contact Teague at (423) 392-8800 or [email protected] for more information.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Miracle Field is about a third of the size of a normal field, and instead of grass or traditional astroturf, the field has a flat, rubberized surface. The mound and all of the bases are flush, so wheelchair users and amputees can travel over the surface more easily and safely.
Kingsport’s field is at located Brickyard Park (off Industry Drive) behind the four fields that already exist at the facility. The $2.56 million complex includes the field, a pavilion and all-accessible playground and “Homer” the mascot statue at the entrance. Future additions could include a second ball field, soccer field and zip line.
The new field will be an enormous benefit for the entire region, as it will be the first Miracle League complex in Northeast Tennessee, Teague said. The closest Miracle League complex in Tennessee is in Chattanooga, with Roanoke being the closest in Virginia.
There are more than 300 Miracle League organizations across the country, in Puerto Rico, Canada, and Australia, serving in excess of 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities.
Teague said there are 85,000 children in Tennessee with some type of special need and that once the Brickyard Park facility is complete, it would likely serve 2,500 to 3,000 of them.
For more information on the project or to make a donation, visit www.miracleleague.com.