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Pledge to preserve Leahy Bowl

A tower fell down during a wind storm in April at the Leahy Bowl in Winner. (Dan Bechtold/Winner Advocate)

WINNER -- Glen McCready remembers watching Basin League baseball games at Leahy Bowl when he was a boy.

McCready, treasurer of the Winner Baseball Association, doesn't want to see the field, which is named after Notre Dame football coach and Winner native Frank Leahy, lose its historic feel. The Basin League was home to former professional players, along with amateurs, for 21 years from 1953 to 1974.

If the association wants to preserve the field with its original eight towers, it must raise $50,000 worth of pledges before Monday's city council meeting.

"I think it's a very unique field and I'd hate to see it change," he said.

The field sits at the bottom of a hill, where the bleachers are built into to. Spectators can watch the game from their vehicles from the top of the hill, looking down on the field.

Preservation of the field is on the forefront after one of the 80-foot towers, which is the field's source for light, blew down during a wind storm in April. The city had nothing budgeted for an expenditure of this magnitude at Leahy Bowl, and its cheapest option is to tear down the remaining seven poles, which would cost around $15,500. The city suspended all baseball games at Leahy Bowl until the issue is fixed and all Winner/Colome spring baseball games are being played in Colome.

The $50,000 that the WBA, which is donating $5,000, must raise over the weekend will go toward repairing the foundation and an anchoring system for the existing seven towers.

The existing towers can be refurbished in phases for a projected total cost of around $140,000. If the initial amount is raised, McCready estimated the first phase, which would strengthen the towers' foundation, replace or strengthen the weakest steel and place a temporary wood pole for the tower that blew down, could be completed by early June. By repairing the foundation, the existing towers would be deemed safe up to wind speeds of 70 mph.

Further changes will occur in the next few years if funding is there.

McCready said Wednesday that the association had $25,000 in pledges. If the mark is met before Monday, Leahy Bowl would be able to host night baseball games this summer and several tournaments, including the State A junior teener tournament in July.

There are around 70 games scheduled to play at Leahy Bowl this summer, including teener and amateur games.

"I hope we get more support and keep our light poles the way they are," McCready said, adding the city isn't sure when games will resume on the field.

Nothing budgeted, cheapest option

If the association doesn't raise the necessary funds to repair the towers, the city's option of tearing down the towers will move forward. This would allow for day baseball games at the field this year.

McCready said the city and association will next look into replacing the towers with steel poles, which has an estimated cost between $150,000 and 175,000 for a quality, new steel pole system. That amount would include the $15,500 for removing the existing towers/lights.

He added the goal would be to have the new lights in place for the 2015 season, but it's all dependent on funding.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.