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Kingsport covers funding gap to allow Miracle Field project to proceed

Matthew Lane • Sep 8, 2019 at 7:30 AM

KINGSPORT — Construction of the Miracle Field project will begin in the near future thanks to action taken by the city last week.

During a recent Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, elected officials unanimously approved an amendment to the lease agreement for the old General Shale property. The Kingsport Economic Development Board — the economic development arm of the city — owns the property and is leasing it back to the city.

The amendment calls for annual payments from the city to the KEDB for up to $214,000 a year for 10 years. However, based on donations received for the Miracle Field project, the payments are expected to be more in the neighborhood of $135,000 a year for 10 years.

What this basically means is the city is allocating enough money to cover the remainder of the Miracle Field project. A public fundraising campaign for the is underway with about $1.8 million raised. The goal is $2.56 million.

The move by the city means the project can proceed.

“The lease agreement was necessary for the KEDB to demonstrate to the bank that someone was there to cover the loan,” said City Manager Chris McCartt.

FUNDRAISING WILL CONTINUE

Even though the city is covering the gap between what’s been raised and the total cost of the project, fundraising has not and will not stop, McCartt said. Every dollar raised will lower the amount of money Kingsport will ultimately have to pay to finish the project.

“We’re going to be actively fundraising,” McCartt stressed. “There’s a big push to raise funding to support the capital, and next is to raise funds to support the various programs, and then for the ongoing repairs and maintenance for the facility.”

In McCartt’s mind, the change to the lease agreement is a necessary step to move the project forward. And since it’s a project the whole region has gotten behind, he also doesn’t think fundraising dollars are going to dry up anytime soon.

“Our goal is that at the end of the day, there won’t be a gap. We’ll cut the ribbon and the money will have come in,” McCartt said. “The city recognizes there may be some dollars we have to kick in, but we want to be the last ones to put those in.”

ABOUT THE PROJECT

A Miracle Field is a baseball field built to accommodate special needs children. Kingsport plans to build the field, along with a pavilion and all-accessible playground at Brickyard Park. Groundbreaking will likely take place this month with the field opening in the spring of next year.

Two promotions are taking place to help raise money for the project.

First is the “Pitch it Forward” social media challenge that was launched last month. The challenge is rather easy. 1) Go to www.pitchitforwardkingsport.com and make a donation. 2) Find a baseball and a friend. 3) Video your friend tossing you the ball while talking about the project. 4) Post the video on social media, tagging and challenging your friends to participate. 5) Hashtag your post with #pitchitforwardkingsport and #buildthedreamkpt.

Second, Food City recently announced that continuing through Sept. 24, its locations in Kingsport, Church Hill and Weber City will offer $1, $3, and $5 donation cards at the checkouts. Customers who want to make a donation simply need to select the desired dollar amount and it will be added to their order total.

One hundred percent of those proceeds will benefit the Kingsport Miracle Field project. In addition, Food City plans to donate $25,000 over the next five years.

If you would like to contribute to the project, contact Jud Teague, executive director of Visit Kingsport, at (423) 392-8820 or visit www.kingsportmiraclefield.com.

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