This time next year, baseball should be in full swing on a new state-of-the-art stadium, giving the Lancers baseball their first home field on campus.
Leaders of Central 4Ward, a community fundraising group, held a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday on the grass field between Brookfield Central High School and the football/track stadium.
"When I came here 10 years ago, it was always a dream of mine to build our own field," Head Boys Baseball Coach Jeff Bigler said. "Now here it is, a reality."
The athletes — who compete next week in the GMC tournament — will be able to play home games in their backyard rather than at cross-rival Brookfield East or McCoy Field.
"I know our student athletes will take great pride in walking out the school doors to see a baseball field on the campus of Brookfield Central for the first time in its history," Bigler said. "It is a very special time for BC baseball, thank you."
Brookfield Central Athletic and Activities Director Todd Sobrilsky said when he was hired about two years ago, Superintendent Matt Gibson challenged him to resolve debt from the football project before Central could move forward on other athletic facilities needs.
Thanks to a major donor and Central 4Ward's fundraising efforts, the Elmbrook School Board recently agreed to fund one-third of the baseball stadium, after private donations covered two-thirds. Central 4Ward raised and gave the district $266,655 by the end of May.
Sobrilsky singled out two people for special thanks Thursday, saying without their "tenacity to help us get this done we wouldn't be sitting here today" — Scott Miller, Elmbrook's facilities manager and Tom Knopp, a key leader in Central's athletic booster club and Central 4Ward chairman.
"Once he (Knopp) became involved, man, things really started to move," Sobrilsky said.
Knopp said, "I am truly inspired by what I see happening.... I am privileged to be part of a community that is willing to dream big, work hard, make a difference not only for themselves but for others. I just get the sense that that's how it happens in Lancer country."
Knopp said the project was aided in large part by a major donation by an family who wished to remain anonymous.
Mayor Steve Ponto applauded the donor and private fundraising, saying the field contributes to the high-quality school district that attracts young families.
Ponto noted the new field will be just east of City Hall and the Civic Plaza. "I am particularly pleased by the location of this field in the City center were many people will be able to stop by and enjoy a game," he said.
In the next few weeks Central 4Ward will kick off fundraising for phase 2, a new concession and restroom building hoped for construction within one to two years.
- on the baseball stadium and future plans