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On The Edges--Ozark

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by Diane Rarick

Ground was broken Jan. 15 for the $3 million stadium for the Ozark Mountain Ducks expansion team of the Texas-Louisiana Professional Baseball League.

The stadium, which will seat 6,000 baseball fans, will be built at the Christian County CC/J exit off U.S. Highway 65.

It is scheduled to open in time for the season's June start, according to Byron Pierce, president of the league. The team's general manager is Brad Eldridge.

"We are extremely elated to finally be breaking ground on this facility," Pierce said. "This will truly be a first-class stadium that will facilitate not only 40 to 50 Mountain Duck ballgames each summer, but a series of concerts and other events throughout the year." Pierce added that the stadium may also host graduations, high school playoff games and larger Southwest Missouri State University baseball games.

The stadium is being built by a privately funded venture but "would not have been possible" without the involvement of local civic leaders and the city of Ozark, Pierce said.

Area businessmen John Pittman and Steve Eoff donated the land for the project to the city of Ozark, which has entered into a 99-year land lease with the Texas-Louisiana League.

Wade Terrell, Ozark mayor, said, "It will be a real good thing for the city."

The stadium will be built to meet professional baseball standards, complete with a 400-foot center field wall, AAA-level lighting, a fully equipped clubhouse, picnic and party facilities, team offices and plenty of restrooms, concession and souvenir facilities.

There will be more than 4,000 permanent seats with additional room for 2,000 other spectators on grassy areas within the stadium. A paved lot will hold 1,200 vehicles.

The Texas-Louisiana League's other teams are located in Abilene, Amarillo and Harlingen, Texas; Alexandria and Lafayette, La.; and Greenville, Miss. The league completed five seasons of play in 1998.

Eighty-four games are played between mid-May and Aug. 31.

Construction of the facility will involve mostly local contractors. Eldridge said that more than 500 season tickets have already been reserved and that interest in sponsorships has been high.

For ticket and sponsorship information, call 581-2868.

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