Winning eBay bid brings in ball field equipment
Thanks to Steve Friend's abilities on eBay, the long-talked-about new ball fields for Baldwin City are becoming a fast reality.
Friend, the new Baldwin City Recreation Commission director, successfully entered a bid for $300,000 worth of ball field equipment that was being dismantled in Overland Park. His bid - $23,300. The equipment for four baseball fields was installed in 2002 and the decision was made to remove two of the fields for additional soccer field space.
"The Kansas Recreation and Parks Association sent out an e-mail about it," said Friend, who started here in January. "I don't routinely look at eBay. I took George (McCrary, BCRC president) up there and we decided it was the real deal. At that point, the bid was $5,200.
"I got a commitment of $10,000 from the school district," he said of sharing the cost. "We were happy to get it for $23,300."
He said the lighting alone is worth between $130,000 and $160,000 - per field.
Friend has also enlisted help of others in transforming the Kansas City-area equipment into the long dreamed-of new fields here.
"I don't know what it's going to cost to install it, but it looks like a hell of a buy," said Ken Wagner, a member of the Baldwin City Council.
That's another part of Friend's deal. When he was looking at the purchase, he asked Wagner to go look at the equipment with him and asked him if they got it if Heritage Tractor - owned by Wagner - would move it.
"He called last week and said we're going to try and buy the equipment and asked me to come along," said Wagner. "I said, 'two baseball fields from Overland Park?' We'll take care of that."
Of course, Wagner didn't really think it would happen, he said. When it did, it became a matter of moving fast.
"It's got to be out of there by Friday," he said.
The equipment consists of four dugouts, 10 70-foot light poles with 1,500-watt lights, all backstops, 2,150 feet of chain link fence and two scoreboards. The equipment will be installed at the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center fields where dirt work was completed several years ago for four fields.
"That's what Steve has said," Wagner said. "That's where it will go."
But, Friend said it's not going to happen anytime soon. The fields in that area will be used for soccer and flag football, but it's doubtful baseball will be played this year.
"There will be some hassles in getting it back together," he said. "I need to get with the city and school district to figure out how to do it. I think it will save the school district a lot of money on the bond issue.
"I don't know how they'd want to do it, so I imagine it will be in storage for a while," said Friend. "I'd like to get it started in the fall."
The Baldwin School District has compiled information for an upcoming bond issue and ball field equipment is a part of that. Currently, the figure for the building the ball fields is $2.016 million, but Friend's find will reduce that number significantly.
"I just think it's a wonderful opportunity to get something at a good price," he said. "It's just going to take a few bucks to do it."