BaseballSoftballUK launched the Facilities Fund in 2021; since then, more than £32,000 has been awarded to teams across the UK to improve their grassroots facilities. We're taking a look at some of the funded projects, and how the Facilities Fund has helped change the game for grassroots clubs! Without further adieu...

Club Name: Guilford Baseball and Softball Club 

Funding Awarded: 29 October 2021 

Project applied for: A baseball facility with a permanent mound, cutouts, fencing and backstop for use by both adults and juniors as well as being available for use for other baseball/softball agencies (e.g. for tournaments, training through National Governing Bodies / Independent Leagues / Development Agencies).

How did your club match funding for the Facilities Fund? We held various fundraising activities. These included offering our coaching services to local schools and organisations to run baseball/softball events for them. Some were one-off events, others were ongoing programmes of events, as part of their curriculum. We also ran some social events of our own amongst club members, families and friends to bring in extra revenue and reached out to some in the local community who were interested in providing one-off sponsorship. As we are in partnership with the school, on whose land the facility was built, they also put some of their funds in, on the basis that they would recover this and more, from the ongoing rent they will receive from the club. All these activities were not just in the immediate year leading up to the build but had taken place over several years since we had left our ground at Broadwater School  

Did you spend all of the funding? How did you spend it? Yes, all of the funding was spent, and it went towards the cost of the backstop fencing. This total was a total of just under £18k and was paid for with a combination of the BSUK funding and school funds, with the club making up the rest. All the other items and work (field), were paid for by the club. The overall total for fence work and ground came in at approx. £30k

Has your project helped grow and sustain participation as well as increased satisfaction among participants? Only time will tell, as it has only come online this season, although already we have been able to hold a junior open day, which showed promise, attracting over 40 children from the local area, as we attempt to build the youth programme back up, following lockdown. The adult games played on it so far, have also produced a positive response, as it has provided a robust and readily available facility, that should see a lot of usage in the seasons to come. We’ve also had the local university sports club, make use of the facility. The agreement with the school allows us almost unlimited use of the facility for a single annual fee, which in turn, should enable us to accommodate more members and hold more sessions on the field

What has the Facilities Fund award meant to the club? This will hopefully allow the club to grow, by not only providing a first-class facility for baseball in the area but allow us to build on that, to grow the membership and the sport as a whole. Part of this is the image it portrays to those using it, as it looks more permanent than any temporary structure can, and is more impressive, creating a good first impression. We are now also in a location with a high footfall (>3000 per month) and this increased visibility will hopefully contribute to more people being aware of baseball locally. It should also be the first step to better overall facilities, with the plan to build some batting cages in the very short term, and perhaps eventually some kind of junior diamond on another part of the field, once we can demonstrate to the school the positive impact this new facility has had. With two active diamonds, the club can now also look to start expanding above the 3 adult teams it currently fields, as that was always a glass ceiling, due to only having one diamond previously.

Thank you to Michael Burdett for providing information on the project.

If your club or team is interested in finding out more about the Facilities Fund, click here.