Farnham Park 2016: catering, clubhouse and a new field

Tue 3 May 2016

The 2016 season is now under way, and so is a programme for changes and improvements at BaseballSoftballUK’s National Baseball and Softball Centre at Farnham Park.

There will be three major additions to the site over the summer: a dedicated baseball and softball caterer, who has already been in action at early-season events; a baseball and softball clubhouse, which should become operational by the middle of the season; and a new combination baseball/softball field, which may be playable towards the end of the current season if the weather is favourable over the summer.
 


Catering

Following a tender process, BSUK has embarked on a five-year partnership arrangement with Jamie's Catering to provide catering and bar services to the baseball and softball fields at Farnham Park.  Jamie's is a local business, based in Slough and specialising in event catering, privately owned and run by Jamie Lloyd-Cox.

BSUK has been working closely with the firm on their food and drink offer, based on a survey of players conducted last year, to make sure that the quality, value and service provided is what the community requires – though there will inevitably be a process of fine-tuning.

For now, Jamie’s is providing catering on site from mobile units, but once a kitchen has been installed in the new clubhouse, the bulk of the catering and the provision of bar services will be done from there.  In addition to game-day provision, Jamie’s can also cater more elaborate meals, as seen in the excellent buffet they provided for players and invited guests at the Softball v Rounders Challenge event on 1 May.

Once Jamie's has taken up residence in the clubhouse, they will be opening for all baseball and softball bookings on site, and they may also open for the general public and possibly through the winter months.

BSUK is encouraging all baseball and softball members and participants to support the new caterers and clubhouse and to spread the word about the need to do so.  The Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex will receive a decent return on every pound spent with Jamie's, which means that using their services is directly helping to fund the sustainability of the site and future improvements to it.

However, the partnership arrangement with Jamie’s is dependent on catering at the clubhouse becoming a viable business that benefits both Jamie's and the Complex.  So the right to cater or sell consumable items at and for the Baseball and Softball Complex has been awarded exclusively to Jamie's, and this means that no other catering or drinks sales will be allowed on or around the fields.  However, BSUK appreciates that national teams and others have used catering in the past at Farnham Park as a fundraiser, and have reached an agreement with Jamie's so that a transparent and optional surcharge can be added to food or drink prices to benefit these kinds of causes.  There may also be other possibilities for fundraising through the new clubhouse.
 


Clubhouse

BSUK’s extended lease at Farnham Park includes the building known as The Laurels, a small house across the road from the cricket clubhouse where the road turns into the baseball and softball area.  During the early part of this season, this building will be modified to become a clubhouse for the baseball and softball community. 

The modifications will create a small club room downstairs, served by a bar and catering kitchen, with customer toilets.  There will also be a large garden area immediately adjacent to the new field, providing players, families and fans with a social space.  The clubhouse will provide users of Farnham Park with a baseball and softball base, and with catering and bar service.  The clubhouse will be operating under a new name (yet to be chosen), and it should feel very much like the social home of the baseball and softball community.

Because of the revenues it will generate, the clubhouse is vital to the ongoing sustainability of the Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex and will help to bring the operational budget to a break-even point without the need for substantial upward revisions to booking fees.
 


New Field

As anyone who has been to Farnham Park already this season will have noticed, building work on the new baseball and softball combination field is well under way.  The field, which will be located on the plateau area above the current baseball/softball field, has been designed to be the main field for both baseball and softball from the 2017 season onwards.  It will be similar to the current baseball/softball field, except that there will be a fully-skinned softball infield, and the outfield dimensions for baseball and the location of baseball dugouts will differ slightly.

Groundwork has mostly been completed, perimeter fencing installed and the baseball dugouts have been walled and sunken in.  Once the field has been seeded and the grass has grown, the dirt areas will be cut in.  While the hope is that the first games can be played in August this year, the playing surfaces will take a full winter to settle properly and will be at their best in 2017.

From the start of the 2017 season, Farnham Park will include two international standard baseball fields and four softball/youth baseball diamonds where either fastpitch or slowpitch can be played.



This season

This summer will have a particularly international feel at Farnham Park, with the complex hosting its first international baseball tournament – a Confederation of European Baseball Federations Cup Qualifier, hosted and run by the London Mets. 

On the same weekend as the Federations Cup comes to a climax, GB Softball will host the GB Invitational, an international women’s fastpitch tournament, and a week later, the London Cup will welcome fastpitch teams from across Europe, the United States and possibly from Indonesia, while the baseball diamond will feature a series of games between the Great Britain and Ireland Junior National Teams.

New events at Farnham Park during the 2016 season will be the London Youth Baseball League, home games played by the Daws Hill Spitfires Baseball Club and the DiscoBall Slowpitch Tournament. 

The Windsor Invitational Slowpitch Tournament will return to the complex after a year off and Farnham Park will welcome back the British Softball Federation Slowpitch National Championships, the British Baseball Federation National Championships and Youth National Championships, the Great Britain Fastpitch League, the Diamond Softball Series, GB Baseball, BaseballSoftballUK's Academy and High Performance Academy, the SPAM Slowpitch Tournament, leagues games in the Windsor and Maidenhead District Mixed Slowpitch League, the Bucks School Games, Blind Baseball and a comprehensive programme of local play through the Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Club.

And even though it’s early in the season, the complex has already hosted the GB Slowpitch Challenge Tournament and GB Slowpitch Open and the opening day of the Great Britain Fastpitch League -- and on Sunday 1 May, a Challenge Day involving national team players from GB Softball and Rounders England competing against each other in both sports was a great success.


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