New-look Farnham Park ready to begin the season
Tue 14 Mar 2017
The first event of the 2017 season at Farnham Park – the Spring National University Baseball Championship on 18-19 March – will find exciting changes for the better at baseball and softball’s flagship national facility.
First, a brand-new combination baseball and softball field that has been built over the past year and completed over the last few weeks. The field is situated between the existing baseball field and BSUK’s new clubhouse.
Second, the clubhouse itself, which will be known as Home Plate Bar and Kitchen, will be open for use, featuring a re-decorated lounge and bar area, inside and outside loos and a spacious astro-turfed back garden with a great view of play on what should quickly become the site’s premier softball diamond.
The clubhouse is located in the cottage that sits next to the football parking area at Farnham Park, just as you turn right to access parking for the baseball and softball fields.
BSUK has always recognised the need for a clubhouse on site to serve the baseball and softball community and to generate additional revenue to help maintain the fields. The cottage, a former domestic dwelling, was chosen because there are restrictions on building at Farnham Park, based on an Act of Parliament, and BSUK did not have the option of building a clubhouse from scratch.
BSUK Joint CEO John Boyd said: “Having our own clubhouse on site is something we have wanted since the beginning of the process that led to the development of a National Baseball Softball Complex at Farnham Park, but it took a while to make it a reality. Now we have a clubhouse, and a catering partner who knows our sports -- and the key point is that this is our clubhouse, dedicated to the players and fans of our sports. Using it will not only help to make the site financially sustainable but will provide a return to British baseball and softball as a whole.”
Food and drink
Food and drink at the clubhouse will be provided by the Home Plate Bar and Kitchen, run by Sara Daughtrey, who grew up near Farnham Park, has an extensive catering background, and has played softball in the Windsor & Maidenhead League, the Greater London Softball Mixed League and the GB Fastpitch League, giving her an inside view of what players and fans want to eat.
Menus will feature a wide range of food from gourmet burgers through to salads and hot lunches, with plenty of vegetarian options and an extensive breakfast offering and the clubhouse will be licensed to serve alcohol along with other drinks. For more details on menus and plans, click here.
A serving hatch from the clubhouse kitchen into the back garden should ensure that ordering and food delivery runs smoothly. And as the season picks up and larger events are held on site, a mobile catering unit will ensure that food and drink is also available on other fields.
Eventually, when funds have been raised, the clubhouse garden will be provided with a roof so it can be used in all weathers, and team dinners and parties will also be catered for as the clubhouse becomes a hub for everyone playing or watching baseball and softball at the facility.
The fact that Farnham Park will now have two international standard baseball diamonds and four high-quality softball/youth baseball diamonds, three with fully-skinned infields, increases possibilities for both domestic and international play at the site.
The additional baseball field makes it possible to hold both domestic and international baseball tournaments at Farnham Park as well as BBF league games. Meanwhile, the possibility of using four purpose-built softball diamonds means that for large domestic tournaments, more teams can play on “proper” fields, while for international competitions, BSUK can offer one of the largest softball complexes in Europe.
And, for the 2017 season, Farnham Park will have a dedicated Manager living on site in the form of GB Women’s Fastpitch Team player Nicole Ratel, who is in the UK for most of the year on a project linked to her course at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Nicole will be prepping the fields for both baseball and softball events and liaising between BSUK and the South Bucks District Council site maintenance team, as well as helping to coach new youth players at the site.
Early-season events are always subject to the vagaries of the weather, but after the 2017 season kicks off at Farnham Park with the Spring National University Baseball Championship, other events will follow thick and fast.
The Spring National University Softball Championship will take place on 25-26 March, followed by Opening Day in the BBF’s National Baseball League on Sunday 2 April. On Saturday 8 April, the GB Slowpitch Challenge Tournament will help Head Coach Stephen Patterson and his Assistant Coaches make selections for this summer’s European Slowpitch Championship, and the following day the team will host its annual fundraising tournament, the GB Slowpitch Open.
Easter weekend will be quiet at Farnham Park, but the Great Britain Fastpitch League will begin play on Saturday 22 April, and will run on six out of seven Saturdays, breaking only for the first Diamond Series slowpitch tournament of the season on 13-14 May.
Later in the summer, the site will see baseball and softball National Championships, the 2017 Little League Qualifiers, two more Diamond Series tournaments, the Windsor Tournament, and a plethora of BBF league games, smaller slowpitch softball tournaments, Windsor & Maidenhead League games and development events and sessions.
Since it first opened for play in middle of the 2013 season, the Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex has become more and more important to British baseball and softball – but in 2017, with the opening of a new combination field and a long-awaited dedicated clubhouse, the site will be even more central to our playing communities.