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Former Chicago Cub Bobby Dernier and Branson Mayor Karen Best participate in a ceremonial ivy planting at Ballparks of America’s Wrigely Field replica.Photo provided by CITY OF BRANSON
Former Chicago Cub Bobby Dernier and Branson Mayor Karen Best participate in a ceremonial ivy planting at Ballparks of America’s Wrigely Field replica.

Photo provided by CITY OF BRANSON

Former Chicago Cub to appear at Ballparks of America launch

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Bobby Dernier, a Gold Glove center fielder and former player with the Chicago Cubs, will join the city of Branson in welcoming Ballparks of America LLC to town next week.

On July 7, the Chicago group of investors’ over $20 million youth baseball complex is scheduled to open to the public, according to a news release.

“This is an amazing facility and fantastic opportunity for young ball players to really experience a true MLB setting, which may be the only exposure kids have to shape their vision of a career in baseball,” said Dernier, who also visited the complex last week for a ceremonial ivy planting to honor Wrigley Field, in the release. “Travel ball is serious businesses, but there needs to be a balance with the fun and excitement of being a kid.”

Following the grand opening, nearly 200 youth baseball players from across the country will visit Ballparks of America for the first weeklong stay-and-play tournament. During the week, at least six games will take place at the complex’s replica Wrigley Field and Tiger Stadium turf fields. The 66-acre attraction at the former Red Roof Mall is planned with 16 replica fields, as well as batting cages, practice diamonds, concession and catering facilities, arcades and playgrounds.

“We designed five stadiums that pay homage to iconic MLB ballparks like Wrigley, Busch, Tiger, Fenway and the historic Ebbets Field, and have plans to add more in the next phase of development like Kauffman Stadium,” Ballparks of America CEO Hamilton Chang said in the release.

The group’s agreement with the city of Branson requires Ballparks of America to pay rent of $2,000 per acre a year and a percentage of gross receipts, with a cap of $100,000 annually, through June 30, 2049, according to Springfield Business Journal archives.

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