Coming next year to Butte: A first-class baseball field and facility oriented correctly with elevated grand stands that can seat 300 people with a great view of Uptown Butte in the background.
Those are among features county officials say people can count on when a $2.3 million project at Copper Mountain Park is completed in August 2016.
It got a major boost Monday with an announced $1 million donation from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Resources. NorthWestern Energy is kicking in $50,000, half of that for lights to make nighttime American Legion baseball a pastime in the mining city.
The Copper Mountain Sports Complex, which includes two baseball fields and two softball fields, does not have lights to illuminate them. That means all home games for Butte’s Legion teams – the Miners and the Muckers – are played during the day.
“It really limits the ability of parents to attend games and the community to attend games,” said Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Matt Vincent.
Under the project, one of the softball fields will be reconfigured as a baseball field with the batter and fans behind facing a north to northeasterly direction. That’s standard for baseball fields because it minimizes sunlight shining in players’ eyes.
The complex will still include two baseball fields and two softball fields after the changes are made, said county Parks Director E. Jay Ellington. But there will be elevated grandstands behind the primary baseball field with seating for about 300.
The backstop will be replaced with a higher one that will include netting, which will also align the first-base and third-base lines to give some protection from foul balls.
To help block strong, southwest winds common in the summer, burms and vegetation will be placed on the outskirts of the field. The parking lot will be expanded, with a walkway leading to a plaza entrance area that will be lined in part with bricks.
A flag pole will be placed at deep center field with a scoreboard in left field.
Ellington said the facility will be about more than baseball the sport. It’s also about the “casual, social, recreational atmosphere,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s the mental piece we gain from being social out in the world,” he said.