ASHEBORO — The new improved McCrary Park has become a popular baseball facility for teams up and down the Atlantic Seaboard.
That was the assessment by Ronnie Pugh, coach of the Randolph County American Legion team and co-owner of the Coastal Plain League Asheboro Zookeepers who call McCrary Park home. He gave an update to the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority Board of Directors back in the fall.
“There’s a lot going on at the ballpark and they’ve completed several projects,” Pugh said, referring to the City of Asheboro’s refurbishing of the historic McCrary Park that includes artificial turf and three covered grandstands.
After a year or so of being closed for baseball, the park reopened for games on June 2, even as work continued. While the playing field is complete along with the grandstands, press box and dugouts, projects such as new restrooms, a ticket booth and locker rooms were ongoing during the summer season and continued into the fall, including a to-do list of:
— Paving the parking lots.
— Erecting batting cages.
— Finalizing the fencing around the facility.
— Completing a maintenance building.
All of those projects are on the exterior.
Pugh said plans are to have most of the work finished by the beginning of the new season this spring.
Meanwhile, the fall high school league had four county teams and four other teams from other counties on the field. A spring session is being prepared with another four-plus-four teams.
The fall league ran Monday through Thursday, with each team playing twice per week. “That’s been a huge hit,” he said. “People call us now” wanting to play here.
Beyond high school, Pugh said college teams are planning to use McCrary Park in the coming seasons. He said they’ve had commitments from Division I college teams for the future.
He said there’s nothing else on the Eastern Seaboard to compare to McCrary Park except for major college and larger minor league parks. With 699 covered seats, McCrary Park exceeds many college ballparks.
Attendance has gone back up to pre-COVID levels, Pugh said.
McCrary Park, along with the Randolph County team, have hosted the American Legion Regional Tournament for the past 10 years and are expected to be the host team for at least two more years. He said visitors from other states have been impressed with the new facility.
Teams from West Virginia and Maryland have come down to play here and plan to come back, Pugh said. There are also commitments from Ohio and New Jersey teams.
He credits the new facility and the welcoming treatment of the community for teams wanting to return to Asheboro.
Pugh gave kudos to the Tourism Development Authority staff and board for helping make the Zookeepers’ programs possible. The City of Asheboro has also been a big help, he said.
He said the Zookeepers’ collegiate summer league team has benefitted with an increase in sponsorships and host families for the players.