International sportsmen praise new 'world class' facilities
DESPITE not being your 'traditional' baseball dugouts, the new facilities at Albert Park in Lismore have drawn praise from international players.
Far North Coast Baseball's Bill O'Sullivan said a recent training camp of the Australian and Canadian baseball teams had given the park's completed upgrades a big tick of approval.
The sporting facility is currently undergoing a $7 million upgrade, which has seen the Keen Street sports ground become a "world class" facility.
The improvements include extended playing fields, improved turf quality, installation of an electronic scoreboard and improved fencing, as well as construction of new dug-outs for teams to watch games on the sidelines.
"We recently had some ex-Major League players say they were the best dugouts they have visited," he said.
During the upgrade local business Hurford's Harwood sponsored the new timber seating for the dugouts, something Mr O' Sullivan said was part of the reason the dugouts were so ideal.
"The timber seating gives them an edge, it's a bit different, because most dugout seating is made from steel or aluminium, which is both hot in summer and freezing cold in winter," he said.
Mr O' Sullivan said although the upgrades were only "halfway completed", it had already drawn a number of national championships.
"They say you build it and they will come," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"Already we have hosted the national championships for both the Australian Little League and Senior League."
Mr O'Sullivan said Albert Park was one of Lismore's biggest economic assets, but "no-one seems to know about it".
"It's the best kept secret in town. People think of baseball as an American sport, but it has quite a large following in Australia," he said.
"Every year Albert Park brings huge numbers to town with the Timberjack Baseball Tournament, with 30 teams and their families coming to town.
"We also just had the Australian and Canadian teams here for a training camp, and this is just the beginning.
"We already two beautiful new grounds, with two more to go, and state-of-the-art batting cages.
"The upgrades will give Lismore a huge attraction as a training facility."