Community leaders announced a public-private partnership on Thursday that aims to raise the funds needed to build a baseball field and playground in west Mobile designed for children with special needs.
“The Miracle League of West Mobile: Schmidt Family Park” is slated to be built on Johnson Road, about two miles southwest of the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Snow Road. The field itself would be designed from top to bottom to be accessible to children with a variety of special needs.
In addition to other features, synthetic rubberized turf would allow the field to accommodate wheelchairs and other assistive devices as well as prevent injuries. The lanes on the field are also designed to be twice as wide as a traditional baseball diamond to allow more space as players move around the bases.
The current plans also include a regular baseball field for children who are middle school-aged.
As the property owners, the Mobile County Public School System has long-term aspirations of building a school on the site that would be specifically catered to special-needs and autistic students. However, officials at MCPSS say they could not have made it to this point in the project without several community organizations stepping up to the plate to donate land, provide funding and pave roads to the park.
Key players thus far have been the Alabama Pecan Development Company, Inc., the Schmidt-Barton Family Fund, South Alabama Utilities, MCPSS and the Mobile County Commission. The APDC donated more than 24 acres to the project and South Alabama Utilities has donated another 4.
Additionally, the Schmidt-Barton Family Fund has pledged to give up to $1 million in matching funds toward the estimated $3.2 million in construction costs.
“Alabama Pecan Development Company, Inc., and the Schmidt family are excited to be part of this project. Our grandfather, William Edward Schmidt, believed in Mobile, Alabama, its people and its potential,” the Schmidt family said in a statement Thursday. “The new school, the Miracle League park, and the special-needs playground would make William Edward Schmidt proud.”
Donations are now being accepted at mcpss.com/miracleleague to cover the remaining costs associated with the park. Besides the two ball fields and the playground, the park will also include a concession/restroom building and parking areas. According to MCPSS officials, South Alabama Unititles has also already connected the electricity and plumbing on the property.
“South Alabama Utilities is thankful for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful endeavor as the Miracle League field and playground,” the company said in a statement. “Our board of directors and management team considers it a privilege to be able to give back to our community in this way. We are proud to partner with others as we see this park come to fruition.”
Mobile County Public Schools is managing the construction in accordance with specifications approved by The Miracle League, LLC, which has worked with local organizations to build 240 similar fields across the country. The school system will operate the park once it is complete.
To assist with the project, Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl tapped into his district’s discretionary funds in order to allocate close to $500,000 to pave a road leading into the park.
“We are very excited to be a part of this project,” Carl said. “It’s such a great combined effort between the private sector, the county and the local school system. Miracle League is definitely needed in our area. It’s a unique concept, and people are going to love coming to this park.”
The Miracle League is about making new friends, building self-esteem and being treated just like other athletes. To help the athletes, the Miracle League uses a “buddy” system – pairing each player with an able-bodied peer. It serves children and adults who suffer from any physical or mental disability that causes them to be excluded – whether intentionally or not – from conventional baseball leagues.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).