KIMBALL, Tenn. - City leaders in South Pittsburg and Kimball have worked out a deal that will allow South Pittsburg's little league baseball and softball programs to use the new ballfields at Kimball Park for the upcoming season.
South Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Bradford said the town had 11 baseball and softball teams last year, but only has two regulation-sized fields. Kimball, on the other hand, has four new playable ball fields, but no organized leagues for their use.
The Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the South Pittsburg City Commission each voted unanimously this month to approve the agreement.
Under the contract, South Pittsburg will prep the fields for games, organize and pay officials, and take care of all scheduling issues, officials said. Kimball will provide the fields and run the concession stand. Lighting costs for the fields will be paid with proceeds from those concessions.
South Pittsburg will not pay any money directly to Kimball for using the fields for the regular season, officials said, but it will help with much of the field maintenance costs.
Alderman Johnny Sisk, also the Kimball Park board chairman, said Kimball plans to lease the concession stand to an outside vendor this season.
"If we do ever have a league here, the more these fields are played on and worked up, the better off they'll be," he said. "It will be better on us in the long run."
Any opportunity to bring more people to Kimball where they'll probably shop, eat or buy gasoline is a positive for the community, Alderman Jerry Don Case said.
"We're not making any money with [the fields] sitting down there and nobody playing on them," he said.
The ability to host tournaments could generate more revenue for South Pittsburg's programs, Bradford said, and that will mean the city won't have to pay as much for the teams.
"It will help keep our program together," she said. "I'm afraid if we don't do something at this point, we might see these programs leave. I think it's an advantage for Kimball and us as well."
Kimball Mayor David Jackson said the agreement is for only one year to "see how it goes," and it includes a 45-day termination clause.
"I think this a good way to settle it," he said. "The towns are working together better than we ever have, and I think it would be an excellent thing for us to do."
If the plan works as expected, Jackson said, future plans for Marion County include hosting a Little League World Series event that could be spread out among sites in Kimball, Jasper, South Pittsburg, Whitwell and Powells Crossroads.
"Then you're talking mega dollars," he said. "Brookhaven, Miss., has gotten rich off that. It would be a good thing for the whole county to try and get one of these events somewhere down the road."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.