By April Morris
Prospect Meadows is soon to be a world-class, 17-field baseball and softball complex that will be a game-changer for Linn County. What is it? Well, in 2010 a group of community leaders with a love for baseball came together with “a vision to create a world-class outdoor baseball and softball complex that would foster community growth.” This complex will provide youth locally and across the midwest opportunities to develope their athletic skills as well as foster social skills, and do it in a safe and family-friendly environment.
After conducting studies, creating strategic partnerships and consulting with industry experts, it was soon realized that Prospect Meadows would do much more than just serve youth. Prospect Meadows is expected to attract more visitors to Linn-County than most any attraction our community has ever had.
Between league tournaments and tournament usage by Perfect Game USA, the Cedar Rapids-based scouting firm, organizers expect more than 60,000 out-of-the-area visitors each year for games. Expecting to generate $20 million in direct spending in the area each year. With more than 120,000 people expected to visit the complex annually, it is expected that hotels will fill 80,000 hotel room bookings due to extended stays. Meaning there may be a need for 2-4 new hotels in Marion, as well more area businesses that will want to expand or open a branch in the Marion area. Creating more job opportunities for the community. 200 full and part-time jobs with an annual payroll of more than $500,000 is expected.
It is no surprise the community support for Prospect Meadow continues to grow. Very few community projects boast the potential to serve our youth, improve our quality of life and have such a significant impact on the local economy.
Officials are working to make the Prospect Meadows Complex a reality in spring 2019. After raising $11.3 million for the project, officials decided it was enough to begin work on the project’s first phase. Though still short of the $13.6 million goal needed for initial construction, work has started at site located on county-owned land on the southeast corner of County Home Road and Highway 13 near Marion.
The first phase of the project will create eight fields with concessions and restrooms. Plus, a “Miracle Field” made for children with disabilities that has a cushioned, rubberized surface to help prevent injuries, wheelchair accessible dugouts and a completely flat surface to eliminate barriers for wheel chairs. Creating the only field in Eastern Iowa with such amenities. In the Miracle League, special-needs players are paired with buddies who assist them and cheer them on. Every player gets to bat once each inning; every player is safe on bases; every player gets to round the bases and score each inning; and the last player in a lineup always gets a home run. The second phase will build the remaining eight fields and is not anticipated to start until fall 2021 and may not be completed until 2023. For youth baseball and softball, the disabled and special needs kids and the economic impact, it’s easy to see that the Prospect Meadows Ball Field is a win/win for all.
Both public and private supporters are drawn by the potantial tourism and the economic potentail and are financing the project as well. Private donors have contributed $5.5 million! Wow! Linn County is leasing the land to Prospect Meadows for $1 annually for 95 years and has contributed $1.5 million toward the project. Marion committed $1.25 million to the project and Cedar Rapids will give up to $1 million over time. In total, public funds raised total $5.8 million. Proceeds earned once Phase 1 opens also are expected to help Prospect Meadows earn money to be able to work on Phase 2, and if things go well and as expected, Phase 2 may even be able to begin sooner.
According to Jack Roeder, President of PMBF, “It’s safe to say to that Prospect Meadows Ball Field is a homerun for youth baseball and softball, athletes with disabilities and for the local economy.”