ELKHART — The future home of the Elkhart County Miracle baseball team is entering early stages of construction.
Craig Wallin, Miracle owner and CTT Communications president, held a groundbreaking ceremony at the former American Countryside Farmer’s Market on Friday, June 28, and shed some more light on plans for the site.
The field will sit north of the Farmer’s Market building and face northeast, almost parallel to the U.S. 20 Bypass, with home plate resting just north of the existing parking lot. Several Waste-Away Group receptacles currently dot the landscape, but Wallin said they can be removed quickly.
A row of trees northeast of the Farmer’s Market building will serve as “the batter’s eye,” Wallin said.
Wallin has a purchase agreement for 20 acres of former American Countryside property from Waste-Away, which includes 15 acres for the building and an additional five acres for the field. Wallin said he may purchase another 75 acres that extend out to the bypass.
He envisions the field will have 1,650 fixed seats and an overall capacity of around 4,000.
Wallin said the former Farmer’s Market barn will continue to serve as an event venue, with the exception of the west wing.
He plans on converting the west wing into a baseball clubhouse, complete with home and visitor locker rooms, training rooms and manager offices. On game days, he hopes to use the other part of the building as space for vendors.
On a typical gameday, he said, 75 to 100 vendors will arrive at 7 or 8 a.m. and do “a lot of the things they were doing before.” Players would arrive at 2 p.m. and begin doing some early warming up. The first pitch will be thrown at 7:05 p.m.
Wallin, who is still in the process of permit approval with the Elkhart County Planning Department, says he hopes to start initial construction by July or early August. He said the county’s approval could be a “30-, 60-, 90-day process.”
“We have a purchase agreement in place,” he said. “We have a closing date of August, maybe September. We’re working close with the county to approve all of that.”
Wallin doesn’t anticipate any issues getting approval, but until that happens, he plans on doing what little excavating he can.
“We’ll spend 30 or 60 days out here just moving dirt around,” he said.
He wants to have sod placed by September and hopes to hire a field manager by October to begin putting together the 23-man roster.
The Elkhart County Miracle are part of the Northern Leagues Conference and hope to begin play by next summer.