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May 26, 2013

New Vinemont sports complex bringing big rewards

VINEMONT — It was a long time coming, but after years of talk and planning, the Vinemont Sports Complex is officially open for business.

And, after almost two months of use, the rewards are starting to be seen by town officials.

“It’s been very pleasant simply because of the reception we’ve received,” Vinemont mayor Melba Patton said. “We’ve had wonderful comments from the people who are visiting from out of town.”

Not only has the complex served as the home field for the town’s youth league program since its opening last month, it’s also become an overflow field for USSSA travel baseball and softball participating in tournaments at Heritage Park in Cullman on the weekends. According to Vinemont public works official Mike Graves, that alone has had a $130-140,000 impact on the community, and it looks as though it will be continuing long into this summer.

“We’re booked through mid July on the weekends,” Graves said.

Patton added it comes as no surprise that the complex has been as successful as it has.

“We thought it would be successful when it opened,” Patton said. “Baseball and softball are popular sports, and there is nothing on this side of 157 like it. It’s taken a lot of hard work, but the employees have done a tremendous job.”

Up until now, the town’s youth league teams have had to share the same facility with the Vinemont High School softball team. Currently, the complex has three fields that are being used for play, with a fourth that is expected to be completed by next weekend. Two of those fields are lit. In addition, there is a two-and-a-half story concession stand which includes an office space, assembly area, an umpire changing room, and a score keeping area.

“This is something we’ve been in desperate need of,” Patton said. “There has been a lot of enthusiasm grown in the community. The town and community have been so supportive throughout it all. It’s the first time this area has had ball fields they could call their own.”

The $1.3 million project, which is proposed to have five baseball/softball fields, was funded over several years without piling up debt for the town. Various grants and local funding were used to develop the complex. Patton hopes more additions can be made in the future.

“We have some more land left so hopefully in the years to come we can add other things,” she said.

Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131,ext. 135, or by email at agraves@cullmantimes.com

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