When Millikin moves into its new Workman baseball facility next spring on Fairview Avenue, Sunnyside Park becomes immediately available for another suitor to play there with the Decatur Commodores.
The Big Blue’s new baseball facility is directly south of the Decatur Indoor Sports Center. Eisenhower’s baseball coach Kevin Hale asked school officials to look into the possibility of playing his Panthers home games there instead of at Stephen Decatur Middle School.
Hale is doing everything humanly possible to rebuild the Panthers baseball program, including the time when he was in poor health from needing a kidney transplant that he successfully received and is doing well. I look forward to seeing him on the Alexander Field sidelines this fall since he is one of Steve Thompson’s assistant coaches. There isn’t an Eisenhower student, who doesn’t like him.
Hale’s interest in Sunnyside has led to positive talks between the Decatur Park District’s Bill Clevenger and District 61’s Dr. Fred Bouchard. They have met and had multiple conversations about how the two could work together to make this happen as the two governmental bodies, Park District and District 61, have for years. They also have been open and candid with this sports editor in his desire to learn what is and is not going on with the latest possible governmental partnership.
Clevenger writes, “The (Park) District and District #61 have a relationship that spans 50-plus years. We have shared facilities, programs, et cetera, throughout that time. Any conversations regarding Sunnyside will also involve our existing long-term partnership with the Decatur Commodores. We are committed to partnering in any way possible for the betterment of our Decatur kids,” concluded Clevenger.
Dr. Bouchard provided, “That’s still to be determined,” when asked directly if Eisenhower was going to continue playing its home baseball games at Stephen Decatur. “We haven’t finalized the direction, but please know the Park District has not been an obstacle in anyway and just the opposite…they’ve been very helpful. We have found the Park District very accommodating and an excellent partner in sharing facilities.
Currently, EHS is able to use the field at SDMS which is a good facility and on DPS property. However, Sunnyside is obviously an excellent baseball facility!!!
“Our biggest obstacle with Sunnyside for EHS is the proximity of the field. Because of its west side location this would be a natural for MacArthur, but the Generals have an on-campus field which is always our preference. However, we continue to have passing conversation about this possibility for EHS. With Millikin leaving Sunnyside we think it’s a real opportunity,” concluded Bouchard.
There is misinformation percolating out there that the Decatur Park District is not interested in allowing Eisenhower to use the facility which is not the case as the previous comments from Clevenger and Bouchard strongly and forcefully indicate. Each is bending over backwards to do what’s best for the Decatur kids which they have done in the past and will continue to do in the future.
(More on this story in this week’s online and print editions of the Decatur Tribune)