If a baseball were to land kerplunk in the Clark Fork River, travelling from the new Play Ball Park’s home plate with the crack of a bat, Matt Ellis, Missoula Osprey’s vice president and general manager, says it would be the stuff of legend.
“We think it’s about a 520-foot homerun,” he says. “That’s a massive homerun.”
Osprey staff have measured the distance, but before the Pioneer League team’s opening home game on June 25, they’ve got more work to do. The first home game, says Ellis, is sneaking up on them.
“Some of the stuff is happening quicker than we thought,” he says.
Lately, for staff and the construction crew, he says, “the hours have been ungodly.”
They’ll probably be working on the stadium right up until the last minute, he says. First of all, the turf must be laid this week, says Ellis. The seat posts have arrived, but they’re waiting for 2,000 corresponding plastic covers, which he expects will arrive any day. Lastly, the players, too, should be flying into Missoula International Airport over the course of the week, just in time for the season opener in Great Falls on June 18.
One change Ellis doesn’t plan to make is shrinking the scoreboard. Dana Boruch, with the City’s Office of Planning and Grants, says Ellis “contacted me to see if he had the proper permits to put the sign up. Come to find he didn’t,” she says. But the sign stays, she says, because it was discussed in the stadium agreement, which the city approved. Because neighbors haven’t questioned the technicalities of the approval, the sign won’t go to a review board, she says.
Ellis, who keeps promising that the Play Ball Park and staff will be good to riverfront neighbors, hopes that local opposition is a thing of the past. Recently, he’s had complaints from people who think the Osprey have been leaving their stadium lights on by accident. In fact, he says, the light manufacturer requires that the lights be left on for a certain number of hours before they can be properly aimed.
So far, numbers seem to be stacking up in favor of the Osprey. Season ticket sales are up 20 percent, says Ellis, and the first home game sold out last Wednesday.