The Brownsburg Little League Baseball — which has produced three current Major League Baseball players and has nearly 900 youngsters five to 16 years old playing ball this spring — will find itself down one field and a concession stand next year.
According to Dave Forslund, president of the Brownsburg Little League Baseball (BLLB) Board, the league received “short notice” from the Town of Brownsburg that the main diamond and concession stand in Arbuckle Acre Park will not be available after its season ends June 15 this year. The area will be part of the Green Street retail/residential mixed-use development. As a result, the Little League will have four diamonds instead of five.
“It’s a magic trick,” Forslund said about scheduling nearly 900 players on five fields now. He added that six fields “would get us by.” Fortunately, the league has been able to use the Tri-West Little League diamonds in a pinch. While Brownsburg schools have been helpful in many ways, their diamonds are bigger than those used by Little League, Forslund added.
Also, Forslund said, the Brownsburg Parks and Recreation Department and its Director Phil Parnin have been helpful with relocation, providing study groups, funding, and a lot of leg work for the league. “He realizes how big youth sports is for Brownsburg,” he said of Parnin.
What is most concerning, Forsland said, is the diamond being eliminated is where Little Leaguers facing physical challenges as well as the 10-12-year-old major division play. The BLLB has one of the largest “challenger” programs in the state. Approximately 50 children with disabilities come to play in Brownsburg from throughout Hendricks County.
Additionally, losing the concession stand will hit the BLLB in the pocket book. “The concession stand is a very big revenue source for us,” Forslund said. The building, which the BLLB updated, also serves as its boardroom, maintenance and equipment storage, and restrooms during the games. “We will be going to all portopots next year,” he added.
“We need funding, without question,” Forslund said. He added the BLLB is working on securing land now and are very close to an agreement. Currently, the league is trying to meet its immediate needs of six diamonds when the 2018 season starts in early April. He anticipates the cost for six diamonds and a concession stand will be $2.5 million.
Eventually, Forslund envisions another six diamonds to attract traveling team tournaments to offset the BLLB’s operating costs. The additional diamonds also would run $2.5 million, he estimates.
And with the recognition that the BLLB has brought to Brownsburg, it just might happen. Brownsburg Little League players have reached the Little League World Series twice, once in 1999 and again in 2001. And at least one other team came very close. Out of these teams came three current Major League Baseball players: Lance Lynn, starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals; Drew Storen, relief pitcher for the Cardinals; and Tucker Barnhart, catcher for the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds are helping out the BLLB due to Barnhart’s connection, Forslund said. For the BLLB’s 2017 opening day, the Reds provided their mascots and other support, including special Reds ticket packages for BLLB donors.
The BLLB teams continue to have success. The 10, 11 and 12-year-old teams have gone to state two consecutive years. And the BLLB has established its own traveling team with participation a third of the cost of other towns – and has preserved the BLLB by doing so. Forslund said, in some towns where traveling teams have been established, it has caused competition for players and nearly destroyed the Little League programs. “It’s really helped our program,” Forslund said.
The success of the BLLB has also caught the eye of people looking to relocate to Central Indiana.
“When we were looking to move here around 10 years ago…one of the best darn things was the baseball league (in Brownsburg),” said Garen Carnes, whose son plays in the BLLB 7-8-year-old minor division. “You can’t put a dollar amount on that intrinsic value,”
Carnes recently brought his concerns about the elimination of the diamond and concession stand to the Brownsburg Town Council.
“I think the town center is good idea, but it could have been planned a little better without brushing the Little League aside.”