Field of Dreams: City Hopes to Raise $12 Million for New Sports Fields
Adding more playing fields and space to host events is the overarching goal of the Doubleday Sports Complex (DDSC), a project launched by the City of Sheridan aimed to address the current shortage of field space.
Local benefactors Neltje and Butch Jellis, owners of the Wrench Ranch, gifted the land to the city. The approximately 43-acre parcel is situated west off Decker Highway between Interstate 90 and the site of a proposed new elementary school.
DDSC was established in 2016 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation managed by a volunteer board of directors formed to oversee the project’s private fundraising and facility design.
The Wrench Ranch agreed to donate the land to the City with the understanding that the Sheridan Recreation District would oversee the management of operations and maintenance.
In July 2018, the Doubleday Sports Complex Board of Directors commissioned a needs assessment which identified a variety of needs the space could fill.
According to the study, within the next five years, the 5 to 17 age group in Sheridan County is expected to grow almost 8 percent.
The assessment revealed that the greatest demand is for diamond fields to support the needs of youth baseball, girls softball and adult softball, but demand for additional rectangular fields is also increasing, fueled by growth in participation rates in soccer and new sports such as lacrosse and rugby.
The assessment also indicated that Sheridan’s 50-year-old public sports fields have served the community well, but there is now a need for a higher level of field maintenance in order to attract tournament play.
“We would like to see it go through,” said Richard Bridger, business manager for the Sheridan Recreation Department. “There’s a definite need for it and will be for decades to come.”
DDSC didn’t secure the city one-cent funding they applied for recently, but DDSC Board President Nate Mullinax isn’t concerned. He explained that the city felt they had some better avenues for seeking funding for the project, which will unfold in the spring.
Currently, DDSC still needs approximately $12 million, but they have already put some of the almost $2 million they have raised to use. In the summer of 2018, dirt work was completed for two full-size adult fields. Irrigation construction also began at the same time and will conclude in April. Seeding will occur in May, and Mullinax hopes to have kids playing on the fields by July.
Construction is scheduled to begin in earnest in the spring of 2020.
“Then we gotta get the big money,” Mullinax said. Baseball and softball fields, and pickle-ball courts, are expensive, according to Mullinax.
Mullinax said that the board thinks Doubleday will have a big impact.
Mullinax said the sports complex will demonstrate that Sheridan is serious about having great facilities and will inspire Sheridan County visitors to want to live there.
“Coming into Wyoming from the north end, the first thing you see are the mountains,” he said. “Then you see Sheridan, and then you’ll see Doubleday.”