SIOUX CITY | A baseball field and playground geared toward those with mental and physical disabilities will be ready to use in September, said Kevin Negaard, president of the Miracle League of Sioux City board.
The Miracle Field project is an effort between the organization and Sioux City to create a baseball program for people regardless of ability level. Similar leagues exist in Sioux Falls, Des Moines and Omaha.
“Families with a child with a disability will have a complex that’s specifically designed for their children,” Negaard said. “I think for those families, it’s going to be incredible.”
The playground cost $280,000, and the organization so far has raised $775,000 for the entire project. A grand opening for the playground and baseball field is scheduled for Sept. 12, Negaard said.
The field will also be used for Sioux City’s new adult kickball and Wiffle ball leagues, said Matt Salvatore, the city’s parks and recreation director. The leagues will begin in fall or next spring.
On Friday, about 20 volunteers helped install playground equipment designed for people with autism, sensory disorders and other disabilities. Several employees with Elkhorn, Nebraska-based Outdoor Recreation Products assisted with the setup.
“We got involved with Kevin because it’s a right-headed thing to do,” said Bill Pospichal, co-owner of the Nebraska company “It’s not hard to get volunteers for this. You can tell there’s enthusiasm to do this.”
In May, the City Council voted to approve the organization’s plans to build the $750,000 baseball field at Riverside Park. As part of an agreement, the city gave Miracle League of Sioux City a $330,000 grant.
Negaard said the grant is being used to build a concession stand and restrooms.
Features at the 7,500-square-foot playground also will include an overlay of rubberized material that would accommodate wheelchairs or other devices.
“It’s very specific to meet the needs of different kids with disabilities,” Negaard said.
Volunteer Ben Jackson, 12, of Sioux City, helped prepare baseball bats Friday to decorate the playground. He said Miracle Field will create more opportunities to play sports.
“It gives people with disabilities a chance to play baseball,” he said.