By Jack Kintner
Built by volunteers, new fieldhouse opens this week
A two-story field house that was built largely through volunteer efforts coordinated by the Blaine Booster Club opened Wednesday at Pipeline Fields.
The 1,000 square foot facility sits between the two baseball diamonds at the east end of the athletic park and features storage and a concession stand on the ground floor and space for media, score keepers and a classroom on the second level.
“We’ve been batting this thing around ever since the field opened in 1992,” said long-time head baseball coach Gary Clausen, pointing out that until the building was built he had field maintenance and team equipment stored in several different places. “Now we’ll have everything centralized out here.”
Prior to playing at Pipeline Fields, locally known as the Pipe, Blaine’s diamond was on the main school campus close to the football field. When activities moved to the Pipe it meant that everything needed to be carried out each day for practice and for field maintenance. Each practice session ends with players working on the grounds to keep the field in top shape. As with the soccer pitch, thanks to the work done by the players and by school maintenance staff, Blaine’s baseball diamonds are as good as any in the county, and the added facility makes it more attractive to hosting tournaments or for renting out to other teams who need a place to play. The soccer pitch, for example, is sometimes used by colleges who have games in the area. The field is already wired for lights, making night games a future possibility.
Besides Coach Clausen, the core group behind the effort has been Cliff Freeman, Asiff and Larissa Dhanani and Joe and Christy Imperio.
“There have been a lot of people who have helped, it’s not just us,” said Christy Imperio, concerned that no one’s efforts go unnoticed. Freeman, a 1971 Blaine High School graduate and civil engineer who did the engineering for the structure, estimated that well over a hundred people have contributed labor, time and money.
“This building being here now, and in use this week for the first time, is the result of a conversation last May in the stands, when someone asked about putting in some rest rooms for the fans,” Freeman said. That’s still a future hope as the necessary drain fields for a self-contained system proved to be too expensive for the volunteer project.
“It was on the list for the last bond issue that failed,” Clausen said. So the Blaine Boosters, who among other things also built the bleachers at the football stadium some years ago, got to work. They received approval from the school board last fall to proceed with the $20,000 project once permits were secured, which happened the day after Christmas. Bellingham architect Jon Stewart contributed the design.
The ground was prepared and the lower story built by Barry Wiens and the second story was finished in a matter of days by Mountain States Builders. All of this work was done for free, the only expense coming from materials.
“We’re about halfway to our fundraising goal,” said Imperio, “but we’re also not spending anything until we get it. This is very much a pay as you go volunteer thing.”
The building will be worth easily twice what it cost once finished, and contributions large and small are welcome.
Those giving more than $25 will eventually have their names on a plaque. Forms are available at the building itself.
One issue is the color of the building. It won’t be orange and black, Blaine’s school colors, because it sits close to the diamond and is the background for defensive players, especially those in the outfield, to see a hit ball leave the bat.
“It will be dark green, with black trim,” Clausen said, “because otherwise you’ll lose the ball against the background.” Imperio added that the boosters already own the paint, donated by Jerry Wolten.
The building will add a PA system by the first weekend in May, something 2008 Blaine graduate Brandon Bleecker put together as his senior project last year. “We’ll get some temporary power to it soon for that, and after the season’s over we’ll dig a trench,” said Clausen.
For more information and to contribute or volunteer to work on the project, contact Coach Clausen at 360/332-6088. The Blaine Booster Club is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit and contributions are all tax deductible.
April 16 - 21
4/16 Bellingham 9, Blaine nil
4/21 Lynden Christian 3, Blaine nil
4/16 Blaine 11, Squalicum 0 (5)
4/20 Mt. Baker 2, Blaine 1
4/20 Squalicum 7, Blaine 0
4/16 Squalicum 84, Sedro Woolley 76, Mt. Baker 63. Ferndale 653, Blaine 45, Anacortes 42, Meridian 26
4/20 Blaine finished fourth out of seven at Sudden Valley
4/16 Blaine 3, Ferndale 2