Challenger Field of Dreams at important juncture

Syracuse's Challenger Baseball division is the largest of its kind in the entire United States

We've told you all about the Challenger Field of Dreams proposed for the Town of Dewitt and its potential impact both financially and practically of course for the local Challenger Little Leaguers.

Now the project is at an important accelerated point.

To date, over $1 million has been raised towards the project. A mighty impressive amount, but in order to make the field of dreams a reality, there's much more work to be done.

Included in that, the Committee behind this project has submitted an application for the New York State Regional Economic Development Grant. It's filed under the "parks" category.

A local council of Central New York business and political leaders reviews the applications and offers its recommendation to Governor Cuomo.

The Governor will make his decision by December, for a grant that in one foul swoop, could make this project happen.

The proposed multi-sport complex is located on property in the Town of Dewitt that was donated to the town by the Carrier Corp. In fact, it's still called Willis Carrier Park.

The basic idea is to finally provide a home field for the Syracuse Challenger Little Leaguers---currently the largest Challenger baseball division in the entire country!

Despite its large numbers, the group is still nomads, playing the in the dog days of summer with heat indexes in the 90s while traveling to different fields each week.

This complex though, is so vast, that all youth sports in our area and the entire Central New York region will be able to utilize it

"Our vision is to have CNY become the NationĂ¢??s leader in providing those recreational opportunities to special needs children and adults. Because the Field of Dreams complex will have the ability to bring in other multi-sport tournaments involving all children and adults, the special needs community will have an opportunity to be active and vibrant of a fully integrated sports complex. The Field of Dreams complex would serve as the multi-dimensional, fully integrated model for other communities across the nation. Programs utilizing the Field of Dreams complex, like Syracuse Challenger Baseball, will continue to provide a fertile framework for meeting the recreational, physical, emotional, social, and networking needs of the CNY special needs community" says Syracuse Challenger Baseball President Dom Cambareri.

This project, while it's goal is very admirable, isn't just a positive because the avenues it opens up for youth sports.

It also projects to be a financial boon for the area.

"This is an important project for this community and it will pay dividends. I audit the room occupancy tax, I monitor that, that's a really, really important fund that comes in and when you start bringing people in, putting heads in beds as they say, bringing travelers to this community this will pay back (the cost of building) with tax dollars" Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci told me on Wednesday.

Antonacci is also volunteering his time to serve as treasurer for the project.

CNY Central will keep you up to date with the latest developments with the park.