The Arizona Diamondbacks will build a state-of-theart Little League ballfield in Tempe that will be named for pitcher Matt Mantei.
It will be the 13th field in the "Diamonds Back" Youth Field Building Program. The costs of the fields are split three ways among the Arizona Public Service Co., Arizona Diamondback Charities and the player that gives his name to the field.
Tempe’s Matt Mantei Field will be the second new field in the East Valley, joining the Todd Stottlemyre Field in Guadalupe. It will replace a rarely used softball field at Tempe’s Clark Park.
"We think this will be a great way to bring activity back to the park," said Tempe parks and recreation director Mark Richwine.
Tempe’s City Council will vote on an agreement today that would require the city to maintain and operate the park once it is built.
In exchange, the Diamondbacks will install new lights, an irrigation system, a miniature version of the electronic scoreboard at Bank One Ballpark and the same sod and infield dirt used at the major league park.
The park also will have a Little League-sized diamond (60 feet between the bases instead of 90 feet) and a home run fence that runs 200 feet from home plate.
The fields are worth almost $300,000, though much of the work and materials are donated, said Jeff Jacobs, the Diamondbacks baseball outreach and development manager.
"They’re really nice for Little League fields," said Jeff Stone, president and CEO of Summit Builders Construction Co., which donates labor for the ballfields.
The field comes in handy for two north Tempe Little League clubs.
The clubs typically play at Tempe Beach Park, but have been struggling to schedule enough games there because of the increasing number of events along the lake, said Jim Clark, one of the main coordinators of the Rio Salado and Old Town Tempe Little Leagues, which have about 350 players.
Clark said he hopes the new park, scheduled to open in late September with a guest appearance by Mantei, will inspire Tempe Little League players.
"I think it might be an incentive to get the kids out there," he said. "I’d like to get the kids playing as much all year round."