Seven years ago, BaseballSoftballUK started the process of exploring a baseball and softball facility in Manchester, creating a northern accompaniment to the Farnham Park National Baseball & Softball Complex. Today, we are very pleased to announce that the project has been re-established, and is actively being progressed with Manchester City Council (MCC).
Please see the proposed plans by the council which have been drawn up with our help here. The facility is part of the development of the Hough End Leisure Centre. The map can also be seen below.
The site at Hough End, pending approval, would feature a dual baseball/softball field, a stand-alone softball diamond, state-of-the-art 3G pitches for football and rugby, a redeveloped leisure centre, as well as a viewing gallery, a cafe, an extension of the existing fitness suite gym, and fitness rooms. Construction firm ISG has lodged the formal planning application on behalf of Manchester Council. BaseballSoftballUK has consulted and assisted on the inclusion of two baseball and softball diamonds along Mauldeth Road West, including dugouts and batting cages.
Today’s announcement comes after renewed interest from Manchester City Council, the lead project stakeholder and landowner, in line with their latest Playing Pitch and Outdoor Sport Strategy. MCC are overseeing the site-wide redevelopment working alongside other partners including Greenwich Leisure Ltd, the Football Foundation and other sporting National Governing Bodies. BSUK has continued to engage stakeholders since this project was first announced in 2014, and today’s progress is an exciting step forward.
This facility proposal is aimed at providing a platform for growth from existing and new baseball and softball clubs and leagues in the Greater Manchester area, BSUK’s grassroots development initiatives in the North West, and both the GB Baseball and GB Softball programmes. Similarly, this new site would allow school programmes to grow, additional university play, and the opportunity to expand LGBTQ+ and other minority groups programmes.
BSUK is proud of the programmes that we have been able to run in Manchester to date, including the North West Series, a number of clinics for all abilities, and the upcoming sixth annual Manchester LGBT+ Tournament on 22 May. The Hough End site would allow more people to play baseball and softball in a dedicated space, giving the playing community even more opportunities to train and play. As part of BaseballSoftballUK’s Two Sports, One Ambition Strategy launched in August 2020, BSUK reaffirmed its commitment to help grassroots baseball and softball clubs and leagues across the UK to become stronger, safer and more sustainable. As part of this commitment, BSUK will support infrastructure projects as often as possible through the grassroots Facilities Fund as well as working directly with local authorities when able.
North West Development Manager Luis Arrevillagas, “It's really exciting to see this project moving forward and to have the Council championing on behalf of baseball and softball. We’re very excited that the plans have been announced and hope that the consultation phase leads to a positive outcome.”
Kellie Whitaker, GB Softball team manager and a Manchester resident, added her support to the project, saying that, “a softball and baseball facility in the North West would have a significant impact on the growth and development across all disciplines of our sport. As a team manager of a national programme a quality training and playing facility outside of Farnham Park would be most welcome. We are always looking for opportunities to advance our programme and enable our athletes to train and play in the best facilities possible.”
BSUK hosted a Community Engagement Session with stakeholders on Monday to discuss the site with members of the local community as well as baseball and softball stakeholders in the North West.
The planning phase is the first stage of the project, with subsequent phases covering further consultation, fundraising, and construction and more. The baseball and softball portion of the project has an estimated completion date of early 2023.
As part of the consultation process, we are encouraging teams and individuals to support the initiative, and letters or statements of support can be submitted here.