SHERIDAN — Last summer, American Legion baseball constructed a new wall in left field at Thorne-Rider Stadium — a mini Green Monster, it was called. The wall created some separation between the field and the surrounding houses and added an eye-popping element to an already standout high school baseball stadium.
That was just the beginning.
With the help of donors and sponsors —many of the same ones that helped with the left-field wall American Legion is moving forward in its continued efforts to improve Thorne-Rider.
At Wednesday’s board meeting, the Sheridan Recreation District approved a $5,000 donation as part of an expansion to the outfield fence. The plan is to move forward and build a new wall in center field for this season before eventually completing the wall in right field along with the scoreboard in the future.
SRD executive director Richard Wright said the SRD has been pretty involved in the improvements at Thorne-Rider Stadium because the district is in charge of maintenance and upkeep of the entire Thorne-Rider Park.
The SRD mows and waters the field, so improvements to the dimensions of the field could directly affect its work.
Wright also noted that the $5,000 donation will benefit the SRD right away, as the plan is to include storage behind the wall in center field that the district will utilize. There are already a couple of garages and storage areas behind the stadium, so the center-field wall will provide some more organization for SRD equipment.
The center-field fence rebuild will be done by O’Dell Construction, who also built the fence in left field. It is part of a large number of improvements being done at the stadium this summer. Fans will see more than $100,000 of upgrades at the stadium.
Among those upgrades will be a net replacing the chain-link backstop behind home plate that protects fans from the playing area. The bleachers have been torn down and will be upgraded.
Many of the projects will be finished for the summer seasons, but the American Legion and its partners plan on slowly adding improvements over the next few years.
Other business at the SRD board meeting:
• Most of the district’s summer programs are open for signups — including youth baseball and softball, along with adult softball.
• The SRD is selling a number of used vehicles that it no longer uses on a daily basis. Two trucks and two cars are available through the district.
• SRD board president Don Julian gave a brief update on the Doubleday Sports Complex, noting that the dirt-moving stage is pretty much complete. Now, the group will hit the fundraising stage hard this summer as it moves toward breaking ground on the complex.