The Clearwater Little League baseball and softball facility has undergone a $3.3 million renovation, complete with a new concession area and six remodeled fields.
CLEARWATER — The Sid Lickton Sports Complex has been a vital part of the city's youth baseball scene for more than 50 years. And thanks to a $3.3 million renovation, the Saturn Avenue facility should be home base for thousands of area Little Leaguers for many years to come.
The remodeled complex is scheduled to reopen next month following the yearlong project, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony slated for Feb. 15.
The newly redesigned complex features state-of-the-art advancements to the playing fields and the concession area that will allow for greater involvement for the softball and baseball players and their families, city officials said.
“Basically the entire facility was reconfigured,” Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunbar explained. “Before, we had seven undersized fields, where we now have five fields for five different leagues, plus a practice field as well as a full-sized juniors and seniors field.
“The big thing about having that (full-sized) field at this site is, now when a child ages out of the younger leagues, he can stay at the complex and continue playing until he is 15 or 16 years old. In the past, those kids would have to go somewhere else if they wanted to keep playing, and many of them decided to stop playing rather than find another facility.
“It's good for the families and the community to keep those kids at Sid Lickton.”
In addition to the new fields, the complex also features a two-story building that will house a concession stand, press box, restrooms and five individual scoreboard stations. The building is at the center of a “flywheel” setup common to modern baseball complexes and serves as a hub for the entire facility.
According to Dunbar, the city originally scheduled the project for the 2017-18 fiscal year. But a need to replace a water storage tank adjacent to the sports complex made officials rethink their strategy. The city council agreed in 2012 to move up the renovation, which is being paid for by Penny for Pinellas tax proceeds.
Although the simultaneous remodeling of the sports complex and water storage facility was challenging, the decision ultimately paid off.
“Doing both projects at the same time did present some challenges, but luckily our great staff was qualified to handle such an endeavor,” Dunbar said. “We were also able to keep costs down by reusing some materials, such as clay, fencing and lighting, which made the project much more efficient.
“Now we have ample parking, an area that we set aside as a future home for batting cages and one — soon to be two — new water treatment tanks. It all fits together very nicely.”
Dunbar said the ribbon cutting will be the culmination of a lot of planning and hard work by many individuals, companies and organizations. And after seeing how players and parents have reacted to the new complex, he believes the city made the right choice to complete the project now rather than later.
“The best part of all this was seeing the reaction of the kids. They are very excited,” he said. “After playing the 2013 spring and winter seasons at other facilities, they can't wait for Feb. 15th to get here.”
In related news, the city is looking for volunteers to help with a large-scale planting project at the Sid Lickton Sports Complex on Saturday. Volunteers are asked to report to 714 N. Saturn Ave. starting at 8 a.m. City staff members will be there to coordinate the work. Students can use this opportunity to earn volunteer service hours. The project will continue until noon.
Sign up at www.myclearwater.com/parksvolunteer. For more information, call (727) 562-4803 or e-mail Krystal.Epperson@MyClearwater.com.