L&O shows support for Futures Baseball

Billy Bullens Field (WNG File Photo)

WESTFIELD – The Legislative and Ordinance committee recommended a resolution on Monday to authorize the Mayor to enter into a lease of Billy Bullens Field with the Futures League, after hearing from Dan Welch, president of the Greater Westfield Babe Ruth Baseball League and Mayor Brian P. Sullivan.
“I would like to add my support to bring Futures Baseball to Westfield,” Welch said, stepping forward during public participation. He said improvements were made to the field during the Babe Ruth World Series two years ago, and also following the World Series held in 1992, after which a commitment was made that Bullen’s Field would be the home field for Babe Ruth. Welch said his league continues to invest in improvements of $4,000 to $5,000 a year for the privilege of playing there.
Welch said that Babe Ruth has had a great relationship with the Westfield Public Schools over the last 24 years regarding the use of Bullen’s Field, and he is confident in the commitment of Mayor Brian Sullivan to the league. “The challenge will be the scheduling of games. Maintenance will be a challenge for all of us to do together,” Welch said of the new agreement, adding, “This is good for baseball. Babe Ruth supports this significantly.”
Mayor Sullivan also came forward to express his support. “What you’re hearing from behind me is the opportunity to continue with the awesome sport of baseball,” Sullivan said. He said the Starfires team will bring an opportunity for freshmen and sophomores in college to play at the field.
“I played in Babe Ruth, my son played in Babe Ruth and the Futures League. I said I can’t do it without the support of Babe Ruth,” the Mayor added. He said he would have a lease agreement with the Futures League, which he does not have with Babe Ruth, Little League, and youth soccer, adding that the Futures League is a for-profit pay-to-play league. He said 225 games will need to -be scheduled, and he anticipates there may be some bumps in the first year.
“Westfield loves baseball,” Sullivan said, adding that the field looks great, and he thanked the City Council for approving the bond that put the seats in there.
At-large Councilor Nicholas J. Morganelli, Jr. agreed that Bullens Field is world class, with its seating, back stop, net and fencing. “It really is a gem for the city,” he said.
“I fully support the baseball program. This is a fantastic resource for the City of Westfield,” said At-large Councilor Dave Flaherty.
During the meeting, First Assistant City Solicitor Shanna Reed said the Futures League wants to sell beer and wine during games. She said currently, the field is under the Parks & Recreation Committee, which by ordinance does not authorize the sale. She said an exemption is written in to allow the sale of beer and wine for the duration of the lease. She said one day exemptions would also still be allowable.
The L&O Committee voted 3-0 to allow the ordinance amendment.
During the discussion on the lease. Ward 4 Councilor Mike Burns asked whether there would be a curfew. Reed said the current curfew of 10:30 p.m. is a provision in the lease.
L&O Chair William Onyski said he had talked with the Mayor and Mr. Welch about coordinating schedules for the teams. He said there was a lot of good communication.
Sullivan added that they have written in the lease that members of Babe Ruth, Starfires and the city will get together in October to set the schedule for the following year.
The committee then recommended 3-0 to authorize the Mayor to enter into the lease agreement.

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