HELENA — The Helena Brewers will play their final Pioneer League Baseball game Sept. 3 at Kindrick Legion Field. The Brewers will be leaving the Capital City for Colorado Springs in the 2019 season, bringing up an interesting question: What will the move mean for the future of baseball in Helena?
Right now the park is shared with the Brewers and three American Legion teams. With the minor league team soon out of the picture, though, youth baseball could have the opportunuty to take center stage.
“We’ve talked about expanding youth baseball in Helena,” said Helena Senators head coach Jon Burnett. “We have a very strong program all the way down from the Babe Ruth on up. I think with the abilbity to use the field more we have the ability to just grow — grow our program, grow the Babe Ruth program, get some regional tournaments into this facility.”
“We see the ability for the American Legion baseball program to better utilize the facility with pushing some of the games into the later part of the year rather than front loaded early in the year where the weather really can be detrimental,” American Legion general manager Greg Thorquist added. “Also with our B team being able to play more games later, where currently they’re not on the field in June or July.”
But next summer’s plans are not set in stone just yet. There has already been one suiter looking to pick up where the Brewers are leaving off.
Back in May, the Expedition Baseball League, which is a collegiate wood bat league similar to the minor league, had president Steve Wagner pitch Helena as the next home for one of his teams.
“I think the community is the right size community,” said Wagner. “Our baseball product, our entertainment is very family friendly and very affordable for families, so I think it’s a good fit for the folks of Helena. ”
Acording to the American Legion, though, bringing in a new pro team would bring back some old problems.
“The schedule with three Legion teams, along with the Brewers, was quite heavy and the field always requires rest,” said Thornquist. “That was one of the reasons the B team wasn’t able to play and understanding that the B team came after the Brewers were here, so we had to work around that, did the best that we could.”
Thornquist and others in Helena also believe that the benifits of the Legion teams solely occupying the park could reach further into the community.
“City staff is recommending that we not enter into a new agreement with a new baseball league, rather we would let the youth baseball team here in Helena expand and see if they can do more in sponsorships, do more with regional tournaments,” said Helena Parks and Recreation director Amy Teagarden. “Looking at the community benefits, is there more benefit by being able to use the Kindrick Legion Field for other community events and activities such as concerts, those types of things?”
The final say on what’s in store next season for Kindrick Legion will ultimately come from the City Commission in a policy direction by the end of the summer. But whether another team is brought in, the future of youth baseball in Helena seems to moving forward.
The City of Helena is still looking for feedback on the topic from the public.