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Field of reality: Spokane Indians pitching in to help renovate baseball diamonds around city

UPDATED: Wed., July 17, 2019, 7:56 p.m.

Redband Field is pictured after a restoration project between Spokane Parks, the Spokane Indians and other organizations. (Spokane Indians / Courtesy)
Redband Field is pictured after a restoration project between Spokane Parks, the Spokane Indians and other organizations. (Spokane Indians / Courtesy)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

The outfield grass was freshly cut, the infield raked, the bases clean.

Beavers scurried under the afternoon sun in center field, and the Spokane River flowed just beyond the outfield fence.

Redband Field, in Spokane’s Peaceful Valley neighborhood, wasn’t always as it looked this week. When a baseball field sits unused, nature has a way of taking over.

But last year, thanks to a partnership between the Spokane Indians baseball team, the Spokane Parks Department, the Spokane Tribe of Indians and KXLY-TV’s Extreme Team, what used to be called Glover Field was cleaned up and revitalized so it could again host youth baseball games, something it hadn’t done in a long time.

“This is our adopted field now,” said Otto Klein, Spokane Indians senior vice president.

This summer, Redband Field hosted a full schedule of Spokane Indians Youth Baseball games. The hope is to rehabilitate one field a year, Klein said.

“We are the community’s baseball team and we understand that we have the responsibility to give back,” Klein said. “We understand there aren’t enough fields, and we want to solve that problem.”

It’s also a great arrangement from the city’s perspective, said Garrett Jones, interim Spokane City Parks and Recreation Director.

“They provide a recreation opportunity to the public. They’re able to activate positively our parks and continue to be our partner,” Jones said. “It’s an awesome relationship.”

Before the rehab, Glover Field’s infield had been invaded by weeds and the backstop was in disrepair. It was an ideal candidate for a number of reasons, but for Jones, “it really all started with the river.”

A new boat ramp at the park opened this year next to the park’s left-field corner, and a new adjacent parking lot was paved. The field is between the Maple and Monroe street bridges, where Cedar Street and Main Avenue meet on the south side of the river.

Jones and Klein are looking at options for the next field to be rehabbed, with an eye toward parks in neighborhoods that don’t have good access to youth ball fields.

“There are quite a few out there that are offline and need some help,” Jones said. “And it’s not just the initial help. It’s the ongoing maintenance.”

That’s something the baseball club also provides, Klein said, so that it doesn’t fall back on the park system to keep the fields in good working order. The SIYB program uses about 35 fields across the city.

But there are more fields that aren’t being used that could potentially be.

“We want to identify the current fields that might be abandoned and bring them back to life,” Klein said.

Klein envisions a partnership similar to Hoopfest, which has put up new backboards at courts around the city, something he said he has always admired.

The Parks and Recreation program will undergo a master plan update next year, Jones said, with baseball fields among the priorities.

“Baseball is really just a timeless sport, and it’s partners like (SIYB) that continue to grow the sport and create excitement around the sport,” Jones said. “We can’t do our jobs if we don’t have the great partnerships we have.”

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