McPherson ball clubs are preparing to shuffle playing fields during the offseason as the lease for one venue is shifted from the McPherson Recreation Commission to McPherson College.


McPherson ball clubs are preparing to shuffle playing fields during the offseason as the lease for one venue is shifted from the McPherson Recreation Commission to McPherson College.
McPherson City Commissioners discussed the matter during a study session Monday, considering a preliminary agreement that would outline the terms of an agreement with McPherson College. If approved, the college will assume responsibility for Light Capital Diamond and adjacent grounds on South Fisher for a nominal fee, making that venue the only ball complex in McPherson not leased to the recreation commission.
Traditionally, the recreation commission has served as facilitator between McPherson’s various sports teams and the city itself, which owns the Grant Complex, Light Capitol, Eickbush Field in Wall Park and other baseball, softball and T-ball fields throughout the city.
Grant and Light Capital, however, are different from the rest in that they are the only ones in town to feature grass infields — making them desirable for upper-level baseball teams. Historically, McPherson High School, McPherson College and Central Christian College have all shared use of the two stadiums. But when MHS announced it would move all its teams, including varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball, to Grant Complex, officials from the city and the colleges entered negotiations to make sure all teams have an appropriate field.
City administrator Nick Gregory said planned alterations to Grant, which are already under way, pressured many teams to look to secure playing space elsewhere. The recreation commission is in the process of re-sodding the infields at that venue, a project which it plans to complete by spring but one which may interfere with fall baseball practice schedules.
“The conflict wasn’t so bad in the past,” Gregory said of juggling the competition and practice schedules of the various teams. “But now with the high school getting ready to work on Grant, that creates additional strain on the parks.”
If all proposed changes go into effect, recreation commission superintendent Gwyn Muto said McPherson College would have full control over Light Capital Diamond through its lease with the city. The college would be responsible for arranging for other city teams to play at the venue as necessary. All other ball fields would remain under the control of the recreation commission, with all MHS games being played at Grant Field. Central Christian College would, in the short term, practice almost exclusively at Eickbush Field while playing games at both Light Capital and Grant, switching between venues as the schedules of McPherson College and MHS might require.
In club play, the American Legion team would play at Light Capital, while the Babe Ruth team, which does not have enough players in McPherson to compete every year, would likely play at Grant when applicable.
While the process of accommodating schedules is currently complex, scheduling difficulties would largely disappear if Central Christian College moves forward with plans to construct its own baseball and softball complex just beyond city limits near its campus. As of yet, however, those plans remain conceptual and have not been approved by the McPherson County Planning Board.
While McPherson College’s proposed lease and the resulting shuffle would be significant, Muto said the changes would hardly be difficult if all parties continue the cooperative spirit they have exhibited in the past.
“We hope the transition to be pretty smooth,” she said, “so long as all parties work together.”