RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander softball program knows how much it would benefit from a softball complex.
Story By Mark Spillane
Last week, the Hodags moved closer to potentially getting one.
"The benefits of having two fields together [are] huge," said Rhinelander High School Softball Coach D.J. DeMeyer.
If DeMeyer gets his way, the Hodags will have two fields side-by-side.
"Both varsity and JV can practice and then we can try things and not have to go across town to get some other players to be able to work things out," said DeMeyer.
Right now, the Hodags varsity team practices and plays at Pioneer Park, while the JV team spends it's time at West Side Park on the other side of town.
"To bring them together, we're able to share JV and varsity players. We also might be able to bring a tournament to town," said Rhinelander Activities Director Brian Paulson.
DeMeyer says those potential tournaments would really help the high school and little league programs.
"We can raise money, the little league and the high school team can be self-sufficient by having these tournaments," said DeMeyer.
DeMeyer originally wanted the second softball field to be built at Pioneer Park next to the current one, but the Rhinelander City Council voted 6-2 against that idea in 2016.
So Paulson and DeMeyer turned their attention to a location near the high school, like the football practice field next to Mike Webster Stadium.
"It's an ideal location, because we have the bathrooms that are going to be out there, we have the concession stand, we're also going to have a small team room out there," said Pauslon.
That particular field typically doesn't drain very well when it rains.
Last week, the School District of Rhinelander capital projects abd ad hoc committee agreed to sign a contract to study that area behind the school and the soccer field out in front of the school as another potential location.
So far, DeMeyer says he and his supporters have about $150,000 they can use to help fund the project.
He says if need be, there may be access to more.
"I do believe there are some more donors out there, I have had some people contact me. To what amount of money, we haven't talked about that," said DeMeyer.
Either way, Paulson says the benefits go beyond just the high school.
"That's one of my goals is to be bring people to our community, and to have two softball fields right next to each other is another great opportunity to bring more people to Rhinelander," said Paulson.
"Point of Beginning" from Stevens Point will survey the two locations to determine if a softball complex is possible. The contract for the surveys will cost the school district $6,000.