The crack of the bat will return to a baseball field behind the American Legion post in Carol Stream next month -- but now teams will be playing games on artificial turf and under the lights.
Wheaton College's baseball team will play home games at the refurbished field at 570 S. Gary Ave., which the college leases from American Legion Post 76. The college has held games and practices at the field on and off for about 15 years.
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The $3 million plan for the field also includes construction of a 242-seat stadium, press box, locker rooms, concessions, bathrooms and a storage facility. The project includes addition of a public address system and a paved 39-space parking lot.
The new stadium will be named in honor of longtime Wheaton baseball coach Lee Pfund.
Installation of the turf and eight 80- to 86-foot tall light poles is expected to be complete by April 7, when Wheaton's first home game with North Park College is scheduled.
The other upgrades will be done once additional fundraising is complete, said Julie Davis, the school's athletic director. So far, about half of the estimated $3 million cost has been raised.
Carol Stream's village board approved zoning variances for the project this week, which follows a 3-2 vote by the village plan commission last month to recommend approval of the project.
Wheaton's baseball team plans to use the field for practices and games in March, April, May, September and October. The Legion's baseball team will use the field over the summer, when it's also expected that the facility could be rented out to youth baseball teams.
However, under the ordinance approved by the village board, the field could not be rented out for adult recreation or nonathletic events such as concerts.
Night games would be allowed as many as 15 days per month -- but not more than seven nights in a row. That caveat was included at the last minute at the urging of some Winfield residents who live adjacent the field and who expressed concerns about the project.
It eliminates the possibility the field could be used for 30 consecutive nights -- the last 15 days in June and first 15 days in July, for example.
The residents, represented by the Mission Court Homeowners Association, weren't able to get concessions on other items, however, such as:
• No innings would start after 9 p.m. (Under the ordinance, no innings could start after 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.)
• The PA system would not be used after 9 p.m. (The ordinance sets 10 p.m. as the shut off time, however college officials maintain most games will be over by 9 p.m.)
• Night games could only be played between April and September. (The college says there would be no planned evening use from November through February, with some practices planned in October and games scheduled in March.)
Wheaton College has agreed to give the homeowners association a $10,000 allowance to put up fencing at the western property line.