The old baseball field at Bill Gray Stadium in Roseburg will have a new look soon, one that goes beyond a new artificial surface.
Umpqua Post 16, the American Legion post in charge of the Legion baseball program in Douglas County, agreed to sell the naming rights to Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field and change the stadium’s name to Bill Gray Stadium at One Champion Carwash Field, Legion commissioner Jeff Admire said.
Admire said both parties initially agreed on a six-year contract for $25,000 per year, and the contract goes into effect after the field’s artificial surface has been installed.
The sponsorship, commissioner Tom Donagan said, will put the company’s logo behind home plate in front of the stadium’s covered grandstand.
The sponsorship from the Roseburg-based business, located on Northeast Garden Valley Boulevard and owned by Dale Farmer, represents the biggest chunk of sponsorship money the longtime local American Legion baseball program has put into place for years to come. It also rebrands a baseball field that has been known as Legion Field for much of its existence.
“It was something that’s been talked about in the past between the finance committee and myself,” Admire said. “Basically, we were talking about what we could do now to make this project happen.”
Preparatory work for the new surface at the stadium, which is owned by the City of Roseburg, began on Friday. Admire said the total cost for the project is estimated at $715,000, but money raised through grants and donations exceed $800,000 for incidentals during construction.
A phone call to Farmer on Saturday afternoon seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Other sponsorships came from Bigfoot Beverage and DR Johnson Lumber, and their business names will be placed above the stadium’s recently remodeled dugouts. Smaller sponsorship revenue will come from business names on the baseball field’s on-deck circles, and the annual cost of outfield wall displays was raised from it’s previous annual price tag of $150.
In all, Admire said annual sponsorship money will reach an estimated $41,000 per year which, if saved, would give the Legion cash in hand to replace the field once it’s reached or exceeded its estimated 10- to 12-year lifespan.
“This will give us a chance to stack up money to buy new carpet,” Donagan said. “But with that many teams playing on it, it might not last as long as we’d want it to.”
The change to the name of the field goes into effect upon completion of the turf installation, which Umpqua Community College Athletic Director Craig Jackson said should be in time for the fall baseball season at UCC.
Umpqua, along with the baseball programs at Roseburg High School and Umpqua Valley Christian, will be the field’s primary users in the springtime. The three local Legion teams — Dr. Stewart’s, Pepsi and Dr. Randol’s — will use it during the summer months.
Jackson, who has coordinated with the Legion commission on the baseball field’s turf project, said the new field will make field maintenance easier during the spring rainy season and create a selling point for UCC to draw the eight-team NWAC conference tournament, which has been played at Lower Columbia College each year since 2005.
That tournament, plus possible returns of American Legion state and regional tournaments and the millions of dollars in potential revenue those could bring, have been selling points to UCC and city officials. But finances for the field had to be in order before any of those possibilities were feasible.
That’s why the naming rights to the field were sold.
“We want to have cash in hand ... when this field has to be replaced,” Admire said. “That was big for us and for the city, because in 10 to 15 years if nobody is helping out and we can’t afford to replace this field, you’re stuck with a facility that’s useless.”