Registration for Bangor West Side Little League is up 20 percent over a year ago.
Mark Owens, Sarah Smiley and other Bangor West Side Little League administrators want that trend to continue by supplying their Farm Leaguers and Little Leaguers with a quality experience.
And that requires funding.
The 20-year-old scoreboard on the Little League field needs to be replaced, and Owens said the Farm League field is long overdue for an upgrade to keep the players safe.
“The Farm League field is crushed gravel and rocks, and we want to replace it with an infield mix,” Owens said. “We don’t want kids tearing up their knees when they slide.”
The Bangor West Side Little League has launched a GoFundMe campaign to secure the financial support it needs to replace the scoreboard.
It will cost $10,000 for a new scoreboard and $8,000-$9,000 to improve the Farm League field, according to Owens.
“We want to make [Farm League and Little League] fun and exciting for the kids in order to keep the numbers up, and if that means improving the field and putting up a new scoreboard, we’ve got to figure out a way to do it,” Owens said.
The one thing they will not do in order to raise the money is increase the $50 annual registration fee.
In a letter to potential sponsors, Smiley pointed out that the demographics for the league have changed drastically over the past 15 years. She noted that the Bangor West Side Little League district includes students at Downeast and Vine Street schools, where 85 percent of the Downeast School students and 61 percent of the Vine Streeters qualify for free lunch.
The league has established a scholarship fund so every player who wants to play can do so — even if the family cannot afford the $50 registration fee. Smiley said Bangor West LL has given away $1,200 in scholarships this year.
Owens, a Bangor West Side Little League alum, said the Lions Club has donated $1,000 toward the new scoreboard, and the Galen Cole Family Foundation has been an important donor to the scholarship program.
BWLL hopes that other local businesses will consider matching those important donations.
Owens said electricians are looking at the failing scoreboard to try to get it working for this season. He points to 2020 for the unveiling of a new one.
“We’re trying to put a Band-Aid on it for this year,” he said.
Owens said they are talking to local businesses about partnering with them on the scoreboard. A hefty donation would result in the scoreboard carrying the business name on it.
The improvement to the Farm League field will begin “as soon as it stops raining,” according to Owens.
“We’re close enough [financially] to get it started,” he said.
Owens said it is extremely important that a player’s first experience in Little League Baseball at the Farm League level be a positive one so they will want to continue playing.
He explained that one of the important aspects of doing a GoFundMe campaign is that Bangor West Side Little League alumni who do not live in the Bangor area any more can go online and contribute.