Written by
Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

(Full Article)

FAIRFIELD — After more than four years of planning and fundraising, construction has begun on two rubberized fields for a softball league that serves adults with physical or developmental challenges.

The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields at Hatton Park are being built on a six-acre site on Groh Lane across from the Fairfield Pee Wee football fields owned by the City of Fairfield.

The site is the region’s first multi-field complex suitable for tournament play by the disabled. The national Miracle League serves more than 200,000 children and young adults at 240 sites. The Fairfield based group includes players from throughout Southwest Ohio.

“I can’t believe this is finally happening,’’ said Kim Nuxhall, who is coordinating the project with Steve Smith. “We’re off and running – about four months ahead of schedule.’’

The fields were part of the Joe Nuxhall Hope Project begun five years ago by the late Cincinnati Reds player and announcer Joe Nuxhall, Kim’s father.

Plans for the complex – which will be operated by the non-profit Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Inc. Inc. – go beyond the two fields, said Smith, who sits on the organization’s governing board.

The complex includes the lighted fields; handicapped-accessible restrooms; lockers with shower facilities; paved ramps connecting the ball fields; ground-level, covered, dugouts; and electronic scoreboards.

There will also be a pavilion that houses a concession stand, equipment storage and a press box. Stadium-style seats “will give the feel of a professional ball park,’’ Smith said. “They will look like a major league ballpark.”

Two weeks ago Fairfield-based Bown Enterprises began site preparation work including the installation of water and sewer lines, footers and foundation walls – at no cost.

The total project cost is about $2.67 million, which includes an operating and maintenance fund. To date, $959,000 has been received in donated goods and services along with just over $1 million in cash and pledges, Smith said.

The project should be finished by the end of July. Until then the 21-year-old league will continue to play at the Fairfield Civitan Club’s fields. Practices begin April 13; games begin May 11 and continue through late July.

This fall the league will expand by adding teams for youth, Smith said. Those will be run by the Fairfield YMCA.

Once the fields are completed, Smith said he expects additional players – particularly those in wheelchairs who can’t play at the Civitan fields – to sign up to play. Last season there were 82 players.