Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


October 18, 2012

One year until Opening Day at Blanchard fields

New fields look great, but no games until next fall

They look so green, and so lush. They even have fences around them. But the three new baseball fields and one soccer field on Blanchard Street are not yet ready for competition.

These fields of dreams need more time for the grass to establish its roots. The first game will happen a year from now - in the fall of 2013.

“I know it looks great, but we have to wait for the roots to really take hold,” said Christian “Chris” Huntress, president of Huntress Sports of Andover.

His company just released an aerial photograph of the fields site. While the fields look very inviting, the key is to keep off the grass for a bit longer, say youth sports leaders.

“Hey, we’ve waited this long and we don’t want to ruin the grass, so we’ll wait one more year,” said Scott Nichols, president of Andover Little League.

The league is in the midst of fundraising for the second of three phases to create the new Deyermond Park fields project. Nichols said money raised in Phase Two will pay for lights, a snack shack, batting cages, bleachers and other baseball-field amenities. Supporters are looking to raise $450,000 for those items, leaving $200,000 to be raised during the final phase of fundraising.

They raised $350,000 and gave it to the town for the first phase of the project, which created the fields, parking and homerun fences.

While $113,000 has been raised so far for Phase Two, Nichols said the push is on to raise more money before the new park’s grand opening next year.

“It’s a steep hill,” Nichols said of the fundraising, “but we’ll do it.”

About 1,100 kids ages 6 to 18 play Little League baseball in Andover. Games are played at the former Deyermond Field, off Chandler Road. But, it’s a covered landfill and the state has ordered the town to eventually close down that park.

In 2008, Town Meeting voted to buy acreage on Blanchard Street so a new ballpark could be built. The town of Andover has leased the new, public Deyermond Park on Blanchard Street to Andover Little League and the Andover Soccer Association, allowing the groups first access to use the facility at prime times.

“Of course we are excited and looking forward to the opening. Those fields are going to be great,” Nichols said.

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