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Friday, May 6, 2016

LaRoche's dream turning to reality

Friday, May 2, 2014

Courtesy of the City of Fort Scott This rendering of an aerial view shows the future "LaRoche Baseball Complex," to be located in the Fort Scott Industrial Park just off of U.S. 69. City Manager Dave Martin said pending an inter-local agreement between the city of Fort Scott and USD 234, the project could begin as early as June 1. The complex will serve as the home field for the Fort Scott High School baseball team.
Doing something nice for his community has been a longtime dream for Adam LaRoche. Now his vision for a state-of-the-art baseball complex in Fort Scott is about to become a reality.

"I've always considered Fort Scott home," LaRoche said in April. "And now, being in a position to be able to help out and put together a complex like this, is always something I wanted to do. It's something that my wife (Jennifer) and I have talked about for years, to eventually put something really nice like this in town."

Details of an inter-local agreement between the City of Fort Scott and USD 234 for the $2 million LaRoche Baseball Complex are still being finalized. City Manager Dave Martin said the project could break ground as early as June 1, with a possible completion date in late September.

Plans are for a 500-seat stadium. There will be an area for a practice field or a future additional playing field. The main playing field will be named in honor of former Fort Scott High School baseball coach Dave Regan, who passed away in 2002.

LaRoche said Regan, his uncle and former high school coach, played an instrumental role in his life.

"My Uncle David, I think it's safe to say, is probably the best coach I've ever had," LaRoche said. "And I've had a ton of coaches through high school, college, the minor leagues and the big leagues. And not in a baseball sense, he knew baseball. But more of a mentor, as a motivator, and as a coach who just taught his players respect and how to be men, and real life-lessons that you take beyond just the game of baseball.

"He was the best. He was a professional at it, and gained a lot of respect around town because of the way he treated people, regardless of their status. He was constantly willing to go out of his way to make somebody a better person. I feel like he's a huge reason why I'm playing in the big leagues now. He was kind of like a second father to me."

LaRoche led the FSHS baseball team to a class 4A State runner-up finish during his senior campaign in 1998, smacking eight home runs and finishing with a perfect 7-0 record as a pitcher. The 11-year Major League Baseball veteran is the starting first baseman and cleanup hitter for the Washington Nationals. During his professional baseball career, LaRoche has spent time with five different clubs: the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburg Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals.

Currently, the FSHS baseball team shares a facility with the Fort Scott Community College baseball team, which LaRoche said has created a burden for both teams over the years.

"I don't think it's fair to the high school kids or the college kids to have to share facilities with each other," he said. "It's made it a little rough over the years. The college has been great as far as opening up their facility. With the timing of their seasons being in the same time period, it just makes it really hard."

While one intent is to ease the burden on the local schools, LaRoche said he believes the facility can have additional purposes.

"It's not just for the high school to use," LaRoche said. "During the summer, we would like to eventually host some big tournaments there and give the town a chance to draw in some more people there as far as filling up the hotels and restaurants, trying to boost the economy."

According to Martin, the Bourbon County Economic Development Council (BEDCO) has agreed to donate around 20 acres of land for the complex within the Industrial Park in the southern part of the city just off of U.S. 69. Martin said the land still needs to be transferred from BEDCO to the City of Fort Scott and the school district. Additionally, Martin said the complex will be jointly owned by the city and the school district after the inter-local agreement is finalized.

"What we plan on doing at the next (city) commission meeting is giving them a (summary) of our expenses and revenue projections along with (details of) the inter-local agreement," Martin said Tuesday. "And then they would possibly vote on it during the (following) meeting, for it to happen. USD 234 would just have to have the same information at one of their board meetings. So what will have to happen is that both the USD 234 board and the city commission will have to approve going into this agreement, to take care of the stadium from here on."

Martin said LaRoche discussed further details of the project with city officials via a conference call. During the meeting, which also involved Fort Scott Director of Economic Development Heather Griffith and Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lindsay Madison, a brochure with details of the complex was put together. Martin said the brochure will be available in the near future. Martin also said the Bourbon County Recreation Department will oversee scheduling for the complex.

"Adam is going to upfront the money to go ahead and get the project going, so really, the $2 million is on him," Martin said. "But we're also going to get sponsors to help raise that."

LaRoche said he is pleased by how various entities have pulled together in order to make this project a reality.

"The support for the complex has been incredible," LaRoche said. "From the school board, to the city board, and also the BEDCO Corporation for donating the property to make this happen. It's been really neat to watch the town come together and everybody get behind it and be excited about this project. It's made things a lot easier on us."

LaRoche said he is hopeful that the complex will eventually strengthen the local economy.

"It's going to be a great thing for not only the team but also the town of Fort Scott," LaRoche said. "Because I think we're going to see this thing turn into something that ends up bringing a lot of people into town. And hopefully bring in a little more money during the summers."

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This great and all but what this community needs is more full time jobs, a better public library to educate our children better who can then use their educations to further develop Fort Scott into a sustainable community. Occasional tournaments, yes will give money to restaurants and hotels at times, yet our town needs stable incomes and to provide better and more long term jobs.

Mr. Laroche, I think building a baseball facility would be great it is the sport that has taken you where you are today and is the way you are able to give back now to your home community which is very honorable and kind of you. If you really feel that a baseball stadium is the most important/needed thing in Fort Scott then my wish would be for a cheaper baseball stadium and for more investment to go into a better town for future generations. Through education, jobs, social services, etc. I feel that the 2 million dollar baseball stadium, which will only be used part of the year, will not live up to its pricetag. Please go into our Ft. Scott public library and you will see which facility is in greater need of support in the community. Thank for your continued support of Ft. Scott and I ask that you consider this appeal.

-- Posted by marxist06 on Fri, May 2, 2014, at 1:26 PM

I never go to the public library. There would be some that would say we need better sidewalks or the money should be spent on a new jail, use it to fix our school buildings or do this or do that. Fact is, everyone has their opinion as to what should be done in Fort Scott and you're not gong to get 100 people in a room together to agree. It all comes down to, this is what the LaRoche family chose to do. They've donated the money for this and we should appreciate the fact that he wanted to give something back to this community. We are fortunate to have them here.

Thank you Adam and family for your generosity!

-- Posted by Fort Scott Resident on Fri, May 2, 2014, at 9:59 PM

The donation is very generous and the LaRoche's should be applauded for helping Ft Scott in many ways.

Here's another way to help with an important event we hope will never happen, but has, and likely will, occur again.

Last year, the Tribune reported "There is no designated public tornado shelter in Fort Scott." (Jul 10, 2013, "Lessons given in being prepared for the worst").

I ask the donors, planners and engineers to consider integrating a public tornado/storm shelter into the design and to locate the shelter/stadium more centrally to the public schools (Winfield Scott, Eugene Ware, Middle & High Schools).

The tornado that hit Joplin, MO in 2011 killed over 150 people and injured over 900.

The 2013 tornado that hit Moore, OK killed seven children at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

Wouldn't it make sense to build some public tornado shelters in Fort Scott, if not at this facility, at least at the schools?

-- Posted by Jay Armstrong on Wed, May 7, 2014, at 11:18 AM

The way I was brought up, when given a gift, you just say "Thank You" and mean it.

-- Posted by AJustCause on Wed, May 7, 2014, at 12:53 PM

I think that Adam LaRoche has a great idea, along with all of his connections that would help finance the baseball complex. I have lots of faith and confidence in Adam's foresight for the city and community of Ft. Scott. I think most local citizens will think this plan through and will back Adam LaRoche. The game of baseball, just like the game of Chess, is a game of strategy and the quest of winning. Great idea, Adam, and to all of the LaRoches. Dave Regan would be very proud of Adam's concept. We wish you the very best, Adam, in getting this idea off to a good start. Thanks, so much!

-- Posted by Raymond B. on Fri, May 9, 2014, at 12:07 PM

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