PUNXSUTAWNEY — The first phase of the VFW Teener League's $250,000 improvements of Rich Kuntz Memorial Field have been completed.
The first step was the installation of new bleachers that were recently built down both lines between the concession stand and the home and away dugouts.
The next step is constructing new dugouts, which will be built 10 feet back and 10 feet closer to first and third base, respectively. Moving the dugouts will not only create a better viewing angle for fans, but it will also allow the new dugouts to be constructed while the old ones may be used for games this spring and summer. The current dugouts serve as an obstruction for fans at certain parts of the field, but that will not be an issue with new, elevated bleachers and once the new dugouts are completed.
Next week, digging and pouring of cement for the dugouts will begin, and the dugouts are expected to be completed by Memorial Day. Once the new dugouts are ready for use in June, the old dugouts will be torn down.
More than 15 VFW Teener League volunteers have been in attendance to make the improvements. It took more than 200 man hours to construct the bleachers, Teener League board members Bill Grayson and Dave Bish said.
Once the summer baseball season ends in early August, VFW will tear down the fencing behind home plate and replace it with a backstop and a retaining wall that feature a netting system, rather than fencing. Also, once funds become available through grants, loans and community support, a new and improved concession stand will be built.
The new concession stand, which will feature two handicapped accessible bathrooms, is expected to be 30x30 in size, an improvement on the current 30x12 concession stand.
Fund-raiser money and up-front funds from a 10-year contract with Punxsutawney Area High School to rent the field during the high school baseball season are paying for the field's improvements.
The VFW Teener League had a gun bash, a spring dance, an ultimate ticket raffle and a golf outing, among other events, to raise most of the money for the improvements.
Over the past few years prior to the installation of new bleachers, the pavilion down the right-field line was cemented and refurbished, and lighting was also added. Bullpens and a batting cage that are all-weather turf surfaces, and two new sheds on each side of the field to store baseball and field equipment have also been constructed in the last few years.