New Youth Ball Diamonds Shine at Jeffers Park

Tom Giffey

After years of hard work and fundraising, the crack of the bat was finally heard May 19 at the newly built ballfields at Jeffers Park on Eau Claire’s north side. Thanks to more than $400,000 in donations, the formerly undeveloped city park has blossomed into a five-leafed clover of athletic action. “They rival Carson Park in their beauty, which is wonderful,” Jodi Thesing-Ritter, co-chairperson of the project, says of the new diamonds. This summer hundreds of youth baseball and softball games will be played at the Reit Family Fields (which are named in honor of the owners of May’s Floral, who gave $100,000 to the project). The fields are now home to both the Eau Claire Nationals Little League and Eau Claire Fastpitch, whose players (and their parents) have spearheaded the fundraising effort. They will also play host to tournaments, including the 50th Annual Eau Claire Classic Fastpitch Softball Tournament, which will bring 96 teams to compete in the area June 24-26. The fields themselves are complete, as is a central pavilion, but more work needs to be done in the coming weeks, months, and years, Thesing-Ritter says. Dugouts will soon receive roofs and benches, followed by bleachers, scoreboards, and the installation of playground equipment. All that work will cost another $100,000. Eventually, boosters want to install lights and a 5K trail around the park, which could cost another $500,000. Thesing-Ritter says she hopes that fans who attend games at Jeffers Park this summer see both the value of the new site and its ongoing needs and act generously.

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