READ: Going on the Facility Journey


Leah Holmes

BSUK's Development Team leads a webinar on baseball facilities

Wednesday, 20 January saw the second event of the Development Charter virtual workshop Series: ‘The Facility Journey.' 26 club and league reps from across the UK joined the Development Team for an evening of information sharing and discussion on the topic of facilities from the comfort of their own homes.

Starting at 7 PM, BSUK Regional Development Manager Leah Holmes welcomed the attendees and shared the evening's agenda, as well as the purpose of the webinar: To support clubs beginning, or part-way through, their own 'Facility Journey' with case studies and guidance. In addition, the webinar was run to coincide with the application process for the new BSUK Facilities Fund so that the Development team could assist applications.

The workshop broadly presented five steps for the development of a playing field: Investigate, Plan, Deliver, Launch, Maintain and Review.

Allan Binns from the Newcastle Nighthawks shared the first case study, following the completion of phase one of the Nighthawks' facility plan in the autumn.  Allan firstly took the participants through the history of the club, their starting point with Big Bertha, their temporary backstop, and how they approached the project. Al gave details on their options for a permanent pitch, how the Nighthawks managed to get buy in from local partners and fundraise, and useful detail on suppliers, costs and planning procedures. With the work still relatively fresh in their minds he then shared photos and stories from the build; challenges they faced, how they overcame them, tools and materials used, and the time and people power it took. Finally, Al spoke about their hopes for the launch, initial maintenance experience and their plans for further developments, before answering questions from attendees on all aspects of the project!

Al Binns of the Newcastle Nighthawks presents their Facility Journey

Read more about the Nighthawks' Davison Field here.

Next up was Andrew Bunting, League Administrator from LondonSport, who shared a very different facility story, focused on overcoming the challenges some clubs may face when permanent structural developments are not possible. LondonSports provides weekly playing opportunities for upwards of 300 youth players, starting each week with a blank pitch at Wormwood Scrubs Park and converting the site into fourteen youth pitches for game days. Andrew talked through the range of equipment solutions the organisation utilises and how these were developed and sourced, ranging from self-designed carbon fibre backstops to portable pitching mounds. The field setup is a large undertaking and Andrew gave examples of how LondonSports as a league manages the equipment and workforce needed to make this possible, as well as detailing tips on maintaining and storing the equipment to ensure its longevity.

The final presentation was by BSUK’s Events and Facilities Manager Samuel Haslam, representing BSUK's own facility Farnham Park National Baseball & Softball Complex, who shared lessons from the seven years since the facility was created - one of the most established facilities currently in existence in the UK. Focusing his presentation on maintenance, Sam took attendees through some key considerations when it comes to maintaining a facility, what to think about pre-construction that will help in the long term - especially on the issue of drainage - and proper maintenance for daily, weekly, and annual use.

BSUK's Sam Haslam presents about Farnham Park

Following the presentations, the workshop moved into a lively question and answer session, with a mix of pre-submitted questions as well as live discussions on areas of interest, which allowed participants to also share their knowledge and experiences. 

The Nighthawks' Al Binns was thrilled with the session, saying, "The workshop was a fantastic opportunity for both us as speakers and the audience to share our experiences in a well structured but relaxed forum. I think BSUK did a great job with the panel selection, with each person bringing a unique focus and expertise to the overall discussion." 

"Having recently planned, designed, and built a diamond for Newcastle Nighthawks, the case study on the ground maintenance of Farnham Park was particularly helpful. Personally, I think it's great to see the baseball community embracing these collaborative events, and I look forward to attending and hopefully being a part of more events like this in the future."

The entire Development Staff would like to thank all those who participated in this webinar, and urge all clubs and leagues who have yet to sign up to the Development Charter to do so - so that more clubs, leagues and organisations can get access to future webinars and sessions! The next workshop will have a fundraising focus and more information will be sent to Chartered Club and Leagues soon!

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