Citizen asks Holmes Beach to improve Birdie Tebbetts Field

Holmes Beach resident and Manatee West Hurricanes Baseball team manager Andy Procter has big plans for the future of the city’s baseball field.

However, without funding, he has learned, the plans may not come to fruition.

Last October, Procter proposed improvements to Birdie Tebbetts Field and his plans were viewed favorably by the Holmes Beach City Commission. But the city declined to foot the bill.

Procter said he also sent his improvement plans, along with an economic impact statement, to the Manatee County Tourist Development Council.

Mayor Carmel Monti told Procter he was doubtful the TDC would provide funding and advised Procter to speak with the city’s human resource specialist Mary Buonagura.

Buonagura said she is compiling materials to apply for grants that could cover the cost of the improvements, along with a staff report to present to city commissioners.

Procter said in late March he gave Buonagura the application for a grant offered by the Pittsburgh Pirates Fields for Kids campaign.

Procter said only the city can apply.

His call for improvements coincides with a notice to the county sent March 17 by city attorney Patricia Petruff — a 120-day notice to the Manatee County Board of Commissioners to terminate the 1998 interlocal agreement.

Under the agreement, Manatee County provided funding for the construction and maintenance of the field.

The recent addition of the dog park in the outfield, resulted in the relocation of the Birdie Tebbetts Field sign, and removal of the flagpole and scoreboard — all donated to the city and dedicated when the field opened. According to building department clerk Robyn Kinkopf, public works will re-install the fixtures, but there is yet no plan.

Procter’s proposed improvements to the field support a larger goal: to hold an Anna Maria Fall Classic baseball tournament. Procter wants to hold 10 weekends of youth baseball tournaments September to December, leading up to an Anna Maria Fall Classic championship.

The Manatee West team has been searching for a field, and he thought of Holmes Beach because he and several players’ families live on Anna Maria Island.

“When do we need tourists? In the fall, when all the restaurants and hotels are empty,” he said.

Procter’s economic impact statement estimates each event would have a direct impact of at least $18,000 “coming during the offseason, when most city businesses would welcome the much needed revenue.”

Procter’s proposed improvements include adding 15,000 square feet of sod, a movable pitcher’s mound, batting cages and a shell walkway to the restrooms. His preliminary bid for the work is $25,800.

Procter said for the Anna Maria Fall Classic to be possible, improvements to the field would need to be made by August.

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