“We pray that nobody would get hurt, and that every team would win,” said the Rev. Jon Wegner, pastor at Marlton Assembly of God.
With that invocation, a moment years in the making took place as hundreds of Evesham residents attended the grand opening celebration for Evesham’s new Diamonds at Arrowhead youth baseball and softball complex on Wednesday, May 7.
The $5 million complex, paid for with money from the trust fund dedicated to local open space, contains two youth baseball and softball fields and has been in development for several years.
Construction had been ongoing next to the municipal building on Tuckerton Road for the past several months, slightly delayed by the harsh winter.
With the complex built to such a high level of quality, including lights, concession stands, scoreboards and more, the township plans to attract tournaments to bring new revenue into Evesham.
About 1,000 families or 1,500 kids will use the fields, with 500 games played each season.
During the ceremony, Deputy Mayor Ken D’Andrea introduced Mayor Randy Brown as a good friend and colleague who had a vision, and the will to execute on that vision, which culminated with the hard work of many people.
“In this case, the vision that he had to bring community together in various ways: the parade, the Harvest Fest, the Taste of Evesham, all of those events started with his vision,” D’Andrea said. “This complex here started with his vision, and through all that hard work it’s now a reality.”
Brown said the opening of the complex was the type of night he and other public officials dream about.
“Tonight is a night when you’re elected as a public official, you pray that you could just one time in your life look at your residents and say ‘great job,’” Brown said. “Tonight is that night. You can design, you can create, you can build the best facilities in the country, but it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
Brown thanked town council and the officials whose hard work made his dream a reality.
“I’ve got to thank publicly the team that put this together,” Brown said. “And the reason I asked all of you to wear your uniforms tonight was to signify a team. It’s the name we wear on the front of our jersey, not the back of our jersey.”
Two of the four fields were dedicated to Brown’s late father, former Councilman Rich Brown, and D’Andrea’s father, former Councilman Hank D’Andrea.
On the field dedicated to his father, Brown, his mother and brother threw ceremonial first pitches to his young daughters Ryan and Mackenzie.
The night ended with free hotdogs for all and a fireworks display.
Brown summed up the complex’s opening by quoting Walt Disney at the 1955 opening ceremonies of Disneyland.
“To all of you that come to this happy place, welcome to the Diamonds at Arrowhead Park,” Brown said. “This is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past. Here youth may savor the challenges and promise of the future. The Diamonds at Arrowhead Park is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be the source of joy and inspiration to all residents of Evesham.”