Herts Baseball Club celebrated the opening of its Basing Hill Ballpark, in which Barnet councillors threw out ceremonial first pitches. The Basing Hill Ballpark project was completed on 20 June but, with a busy schedule of league games and events, it was not until 1 Oct. that the club found an available date in the calendar to mark the occasion.
Barnet councillors Anne Clarke, Giulia Innocenti, and Nigel Young were the guests of honour and they threw out the ceremonial first pitch during the opening games of the 2023 Hunlock Series, the club’s annual intra-club competition. During the ceremony the club expressed its gratitude to club members, the wider British and international baseball community, local residents, and the many who contributed in various capacities — from grounds crew volunteers to architects.
The club highlighted the fantastic support it received from London Borough of Barnet councillors and members of staff in various Barnet departments. Councillor Peter Zinkin was overseas and was not able to attend, but played a key part in sponsoring the club’s Area Committee funding application.
The first phase of the project was to level and resurface the playing field with new grass. That was implemented in September and October 2021 by the contractor Inscapes and it was time to move to phase two.
The club, with the help of Sport England, club members and the wider community successfully reached the £20,068 crowdfunding target in April 2022 and the London Borough of Barnet planning department granted the planning permission for the second phase of the project to commence.
In the summer of 2022, the club secured the services of several fantastic contractors. Galldris Group, who have been busy across the street with the huge Brent Cross Town development, implemented the excavation of the infield cutout areas around the bases and the pitcher’s mound.
Working on a very tight budget, the club relied on its own members and volunteers to do the heavy lifting of laying the 20 tonnes of sub-base and 40 tonnes of infield mix onto the cutout areas. They somehow managed to avoid disruption to the youth and adult league schedules by squeezing all of this work into the five days between two weekends packed with games.
The first game on the new infield was the Triple-A League clash between the Herts Cardinals and the Cambridge Monarchs on 26 June 2022. Meanwhile, the installation of the baseball backstop was completed by contractors Tate and Tonbridge Fencing in August 2022.
The last remaining step was the installation of the spectator rails on the first and third base side of the infield. With steel and fuel prices rising, the cost of this increased by 30 percent, which delayed this final stage of the project.
It was completed successfully on 20 June 2023, just in time for an MLB Youth Baseball Clinic, which Basing Hill Ballpark was selected to host. It featured MLB stars, World Series winners David Eckstein and Jake Arrieta — with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, respectively (pictured above). This event was part of the 2023 MLB London Series, which culminated with the Cubs and Cardinals playing two official league games at the London Stadium on that weekend.
‘The grand opening gave us an opportunity to thank the many people and organisations who played a part in building this baseball venue – from club members and the wider community to Barnet Council, Sport England, and the contractors who worked on the project,‘ President Aspi Dimitrov told us. ‘Basing Hill Ballpark has given our existing northwest London-based club members a ballpark close to them and, very importantly, has seen an upsurge of new players joining Herts and playing baseball.‘
The club hinted at more in its release, stating that ‘It will be interesting to see how this purpose-built baseball venue will develop in the coming years. Will there be more upgrades?‘ With so many new players joining every year there already are four league teams playing at Basing Hill Ballpark, so the venue is expected to reach full capacity in the next few years. The club may need to replicate this project if they are to avoid having to put new players on a waiting list.
For more on Herts B.C., visit https://hertsbaseball.com.