I hope you all had a fun softball season! This post explains why the Durham Softball League is moving fields this season and what to expect from our new facility.
Last season, I started Durham Softball through a partnership with the RTP Foundation. We recruited 12 great local non-profits to join our cause and I received tremendous feedback and support from the community about the idea. More than 220 people played softball for charity this season and we were able to donate more than $2,500 to local charities. In June, we won a $10,000 grant from the Durham Bulls based on our proposal to renovate RTP Field #2 because the Bulls wanted to support our mission.
In July 2018, I met with Directors at RTP that would be involved in the project to discuss the plans for the field’s improvements. I expected excitement about the opportunity to renovate the fields and gain public recognition for helping local charities. Instead, I learned a lot about the corporate structure of the Research Triangle Park organization and why this news put them in a difficult situation. There are rules that restrict the fields from being used by non-RTP employees and the tax structure of the organization meant they had a hard time accepting funds from outside sources, like our grant.
Because of that difficulty, the RTP Foundation has decided that they cannot be partnered with Durham Softball in 2019. Further, RTP requested that the two leagues become separate entities and that my involvement with Durham Softball was a potential conflict of interest for RTP Softball. I was forced to resign as RTP Softball Commissioner. It was also determined that Durham Softball would not be allowed to renovate RTP Field #2 or play on the field next season, so those plans have been cancelled.
The good news, however, is that we didn’t give up. Durham Softball is now operated by Play NC, Inc, a 501(c)3 non-profit, founded by Ryan Mentock, that has no relationship with the RTP Softball League or the RTP Foundation. After being forced to find a new home for our league, I had the idea to partner with a local school to help fix their fields. It was a lot more work than expected and the project took over the majority of my free time for the last 6 months, but it was worth it.
The Durham Softball League is moving to Shepard Magnet Middle School at 2401 Dakota St, Durham, NC 27707 for the 2019 Season. We will be partnering with Shepard to renovate their baseball field so that the improvements we make will benefit our league and the kids of Shepard at the same time.
Last season, our league spent exactly $0 in field maintenance expenses. This season, we have committed a substantial amount of funds to help renovate and maintain the Shepard field. Some of the renovations will be paid for by our league’s grant winnings, but that alone will not be enough to cover our anticipated renovations over the next few years. To make a better field for everyone, we have increased our registration fees by $5 per player, per season. This will help us subsidize the field’s renovations and make for a better long-term facility.
We hope this explains the change in locations and that you’ll understand the added $5 value of not only improving our league’s field, but improving the field that the Shepard kids play on, as well. Our league’s entire purpose is to benefit the Durham community, so we thought this partnership would be a perfect fit for our league.