Organizers hope to renovate the ground and lure the Empire League team to Malone | St. Lawrence County

MALONE — A fundraising campaign to upgrade the baseball field near Malone-Dufort Airport and bring a professional baseball team to town is underway, and organizers are seeking support.

According to American Legion Post 219 Baseball President Gregory Paye, the committee organized to improve the Route 11 Veterans Field has been working hard, raising funds and working with vendors to improve the field and improve it. attract a team from the Empire Professional Baseball League. at Malone.

Renovation of the city’s airport facility is expected to begin in the spring, Paye said.

“We’re going to start this next spring and in June we should break new ground,” Paye said. “The plan is to have the pitch built or rebuilt with a new safety net, 40ft of netting from dugout to canoe and a side fence. With high schoolers and Legion kids, it doesn’t matter if the ball goes out of play, but with these guys we have to keep the ball in play, we have to protect the spectators.

The first phase of the project will also include seating, he said.

“Eventually we hope to have bathrooms and things like that, all the conveniences of a ball diamond,” Paye said. “We will prepare the ground this year.”

Paye said the goal is to have an independent league team playing in Malone in 2023.

“It’s been going pretty well,” Paye said. “We did a lot of planning, building designs and things like that.”

Paye said the amount of funds raised for the land will determine the extent of improvements to the facility.

“If fundraising goes well, we’ll do everything we can in the first year,” Paye said. “I hope that once this team plays here in the spring of 2023, the project will continue to grow. I think once the community sees the quality of play in this league, we will have a lot of support. The support from the community so far has been really good.

In January, SeaComm Federal Credit Union donated the first installment of a $10,000 donation in support of the baseball field project.

League owner Eddie Gonzales expressed his support for the Legion’s ongoing on-field efforts.

“There is nothing the Empire League is prouder of than having a positive impact on our youth and having a great influence in the community,” Gonzales said in a press release. “We are thrilled that the Town and Village of Malone wants an organization like the Empire League in the area. We look forward to working alongside the American Legion to improve facilities for youth programs and also to have a home base for the Malone baseball team.

The Empire Professional Baseball League is an independent professional development circuit for players ages 21 to 26, according to Gonzales, who in June expressed interest in bringing a team to Malone and met with town and village officials. .

The league held its sixth season last summer, and Gonzales said the Empire League is an opportunity for players fresh out of college looking to sign minor league contracts with major league clubs.

Gonzales said the league was founded to give these players a chance to show off their abilities.

The league has teams in three communities in the north of the country – Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.

Gonzales said he first reached out to Malone about bringing a team to the community in 2020.

“Bringing fun and affordable family entertainment as an additional tourist attraction will be exciting and have a significant economic impact for the community,” he said. “Nothing brings people together like baseball, the American pastime.”

Paye said a GoFundMe page, “Am Legion Post 219 Baseball Field Fund,” was started by Matt Boyea, a village administrator.

The page lists the fundraising goal at $150,000.

Planned work for the field includes improvements to the indoor field, seating, lighting, sound system and adding other features to improve the baseball experience for the community, according to the fundraiser in line.

Paye said direct contributions can be sent to the American Legion Veterans Field Fund Post 219, 53 Morton St., Malone, NY, 12953.

More information about the project is available from one of the Legion baseball committee members, Paye said. The committee is made up of Jason LaFlesh, Dana Langdon, Brian Monette, Village Administrator Matthew Boyea and Councilor Jody Johnston,

All donations to the Legion are tax deductible and documentation will be provided upon request, Paye said.

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