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By Mark Johnson, Staff Writer
New life will soon be seen at two older baseball fields located behind Derstler Lumber after the Richmond Competitive Baseball Association (RCBA) reached agreement earlier this week to lease the site from Richmond R-XVI for three years at $1 per year and a commitment to maintain and upgrade the property.
The lease was approved by a 7-0 vote at the July 10 Richmond R-XVI School Board meeting.
The fields, which have experienced minimal use the past five years, will be used primarily by teams with players 9 to 18 years old, with teams coming from Richmond and possibly surrounding communities.
RCBA president Paul Teegarden said at the board meeting competitive teams currently have to go into Liberty or Kansas City to play other teams. Keeping these teams in Richmond will benefit the community, including area businesses, he said.
The RCBA president expects the fields to be ready for play within two months, sharing how he is already prepared to reassemble the backstop for one of the fields.
When the competitive teams aren’t using the fields, Teegarden said the facility would be available to other teams in the community who had the proper insurance coverage and were willing to provide sweat equity for the site, including recreational teams.
Teegarden said he could even envision the facility reaching the point where it can be used for practice by youth fall sports teams in Richmond.
Several board members returned to the question of insurance.
Teegarden said all teams using the facility, not just the ones using it on a guest basis, will be required to have insurance that provides a broad range of coverage.
Superintendent Dr. Damon Kizzire asked the RCBA president if the association planned to make money off the venture.
Teegarden said funds the group receives would go back into the program and to assist young people who otherwise may not be able to otherwise afford the participation fees. In keeping with that plan, he said the RCBA is in the process of applying for not-for-profit status.
As for where sports will rank in their players’ lives, Teegarden told board members that academics are going to always come first.
“If you’re not passing, you’re not playing,” he told school board members.