WHEELING - Bids for construction of a Miracle League of the Ohio Valley baseball field in Elm Grove are scheduled to be opened Thursday.
Lori Untch, president and chief executive officer of Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center, said though fundraising for the facility continues, she is hopeful the bids are low so work can get started.
"We continue to raise money, but we don't have it all yet," Untch said, noting, to date, about $450,000 has been raised. "With the economy the way it is, we thought we would give it a try. If it's too high ... we will wait awhile."
Similar fields, she noted, have cost about $700,000 to build. Miracle League baseball fields have a synthetic surface that allow children who use walkers or wheelchairs to play baseball in a safe manner.
The local league currently plays on Miracle League fields in other cities, such as Morgantown, and sometimes on regular ball fields. The new field will be constructed on land donated by the city of Wheeling at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Sports Complex.
Local groups that are playing a major role in the project include the Ogden Newspapers, Pirates Charities, which is the charitable arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley and others. Proceeds from this year's Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic Run and Walk were donated to the cause and the Pirates Charities will assist in continued fundraising and planning.
In addition to the synthetic field, Untch said the project includes construction of restrooms and concessions accessible to children and adults with disabilities.
"We're still taking donations of all types," Untch said. "It's not too late to play on the team or volunteer."
The Ohio Valley team's first game is Sunday at a Miracle Field in Morgantown, she noted. To join the league or to make a donation, call Easter Seals in Wheeling at 304-242-1390.