Lamar Porter Baseball Complex Draws Roster of Star Power for $5.6M Makeover

by George Waldon  on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 12:00 am  

Momentum is building toward the launch of an extensive facelift of Lamar Porter Boys Club Athletic Field, touted as the oldest active baseball park in Arkansas.

The fundraising effort for the 77-year-old Little Rock landmark gained additional pop when Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee and his wife, Kristen, joined an expanding roster of players backing the historic makeover.

The Lees, who make their home in Little Rock, have made a commitment of $300,000 in matching funds over three years to boost the campaign.

“Our goal is keep the momentum going,” Kristen Lee said. “Whether the donations are big or small, every little bit helps.”

As part of this year’s push, the Lees have stepped up to provide a matching gift offer to get funding for the first round of improvements within $70,000 of the full $325,287 budgeted. Toward that effort, the family hosted a fundraising backyard dinner party at their home on Nov. 5.

The phase one work to stabilize the structural bones of Lamar Porter is part of an ambitious four-phase plan to invest an estimated $5.6 million to upgrade the recreational complex surrounding the Billy Mitchell Boys & Girls Club at 3107 W. Capitol Ave.

“This could really be a showplace for the city when we get it all said and done,” said Jay Rogers, chairman of the Lamar Porter Complex Revitalization Committee.

The second phase would get the playing field in tournament-quality shape and position Lamar Porter to host more games and generate more income to help pay its way for more planned improvements. Estimated cost: $1.9 million. (See graphs in slideshow above).

Even as work continues to finish gathering funds for phase one, eyes are turning to the next list of improvements.

Plans are in motion to obtain a matching grant in 2014 to pay for dugout renovations, one of a dozen line items needed to check off on phase two.

Boosters hope to start phase one improvements as early as February if warmer temperatures allow.

There’s talk of building on this summer’s successful fund-raising appearance by Brooks Robinson, Little Rock baseball legend and honorary committee chairman of the Lamar Porter Complex revitalization effort.



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