LOOK: Digging in at Newcastle’s Davison Field


Chris Knoblock

The Newcastle Nighthawks were formed in 2017 as an independent member of the Northern Baseball League and were crowned champions of the Single A Playoffs in 2019, their first full season of play. As the team develops, they have focused on the creation of a permanent home pitch, Davison Field, crowdfunding the necessary resources and planning the future home of the ‘Hawks. BSUK’s Chris Knoblock spoke with the team, who provided the text and photos below, about the project, including a breakdown of suppliers and pricing.

A huge thanks to Stu Taylor and Al Binns for their time and energy in creating this story.

The Nighthawks Development Fund was started in February 2020, with the express goal of funding the development of a permanent home ground at Gosforth Sport Association. Along with a news story on the Nighthawks website, a GoFundMe page was launched to crowdfund the resources required.

Al: “Absolutely blown away by the level of support from the wider baseball community. The original target of £2,000 was achieved in March less than two full months after setting up the page.”

Above is a render of what the Nighthawks set out to achieve in phase one of the build. Phase one was limited to the backstop and infield dirt, not including the infield arch which will follow in phase two along with further fencing, pending approval from the planners.

The backstop was provided by First Fence. The backstop is a staggered design with fences measuring 4m, 3m, 2m, 1.2m. The 1.2m fences will ultimately be extended to the outfield as part of phase 2, while 45 degree crank top will be fitted to the top of the 3m and 4m panels

Total cost of the backstop was circa £1,900 including deliveries. However, it's worth noting that Newcastle did not pay full price on some products and services.

The infield material was provided by Thompsons of Prudhoe. To start with, the Nighthawks paid Kelly Services £250 for a digger and a driver to help excavate approx. 4 inches of ground for the cutouts and base paths. However this ended up being around 6 inches due to the ground being predominantly clay, pulling up in large chunks.

The infield material was done in two layers, 2-3 inches of 4mm grain sharp sand, topped with 2-3 inches of 2mm soft building sand.

The sand typically costs circa £50/tonne, but as part of a sponsorship deal with Thompsons of Prudhoe, the company provided the sand at £15/tonne. This sponsorship is part of Thompsons' Giving Back programme, where they support local sports teams and charities. The sand was later rolled by the neighbouring cricket team, using their sit-on roller.

So far, the pitch has required 40T of sand - 16T of 4 mm and 24T of 2 mm - costing £600.00. The Nighthawks estimate that the infield arch will require a further 30 tonnes, costing £450.00 if Thompson of Prudhoe hold their generous prices.

The project cost a total of £2,750, but represents approximately £5,250 worth of materials. All design work, project management and labour was provided free of charge. There were additional costs of £250, which included the fee for the planning application.

The project was originally due to be finished ahead of the 2020 season but the pandemic delayed planning and supply chains.

Beyond the build meeting their goal for creating a facility suitable for a high level of baseball, the Nighthawks also appreciate and embrace the strategic role that Davison Field can play in bridging the gap between English and Scottish baseball.

AL: “Absolutely delighted in the way phase one has turned out. We’d like to thank the generosity of our project partners First Fence and Thompsons of Prudhoe - but foremost we would like to thank every single person who has contributed either their time or money to help making this a reality.”

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Gary 10:12

It would be useful if BSUK compiled a list of companies who can carry out field improvements. We have been looking at quotes for permanent outfield fencing and have been staggered by the cost and difference in quotes which have been thousands apart. Some of the work such as backstop and dugouts requires specialist companies which i have difficult to source relying on Google searches alone.
It would be useful if BSUK could identity suitable companies for this type of work and we would have better negotiating power as a collective rather than each club trying to negotiate their own deal.
It could be done in regions maybe and clubs could see a fixed price for work required though i accept outfield fencing may vary slightly.
free sponsorship/advertising thrown in as part of the deal for the supplier.
Id be interested in your thoughts or any ideas and support you have around this.


Chris Knoblock 11:48

Hi Gary - thanks for getting in touch, and we can tell you that work is underway! Stay tuned… - Chris

About Chris Knoblock

Chris Knoblock

Chris Knoblock joined BSUK in March 2019 on a contract basis, before moving to the UK and becoming a full-time member of staff in 2020. A graduate of the University of Maine and a native of Belmont, Massachusetts, Knoblock previously worked for several professional sports teams in North America, including the New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. An avid baseball fan, Knoblock’s role with BSUK spans social media, broadcasting, commercial partnerships and outreach.

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