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“Bring Professional Baseball to Tupper” campaign launched

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The volunteers who are working hard these days to retrofit the municipal park ball field for next summer's arrival of the Tupper Lake River Pigs, in cooperation with two local groups, have launched an internet crowdfunding campaign to generate $10,000 to complement the $20,000 the village government has pledged to the project and another $10,000 donations raised so far.

All monies will be used to bring the hometown field up to Empire League standards

The local Empire League committee has teamed up with the Adirondack Foundation, whose program, Adirondack Gives, channels investors' money into popular community benefit programs, and with Tupper Lake's ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy). ARISE, whose volunteers operated the Big Tupper Ski Center for seven years here, is an Internal Revenue Service 501-(c)3 corporation, donations to which are tax-deductible. ARISE has helped with fundraising on several other recreational projects here in past months.

The Adirondack Foundation's “Adirondack Gives” web site on the new campaign leads with the headline: Bring Professional Baseball to Tupper Lake,” which is the slogan of the new campaign.

As of Monday $675 has been donated to the $10,000 campaign.

The Tupper Lake River Pigs semi-pro team is the newest franchise of the Empire Professional Baseball League, bringing the total teams to eight in that league. The teams are from Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh and also from Puerto Rico, New Hampshire and Maine.

The league is considered a Rookie to Class A-level minor league baseball, meant to give players out of college an educational pro experience. Some players have been called up to the majors and other higher leagues, league President Eddie Gonzalez has told local supporters.

The Empire Professional Baseball League is a nonprofit operation that is completely funded by revenue streams such as advertisement sales, ticket sales, try-out revenues and donations. The young players assigned to the teams are compensated with housing, transportation and an expense stipend based on their classification.

“The Empire League is very excited to bring this team to Tupper Lake and looks forward o building a great relationship with community as well as bringing business to locals while making a huge economic impact,” the promotional information on the web site reads.

In addition to the village money pledged, the now non-active Tupper Lake Softball Association has donated $9,000 to the project. Tupper Lake Supply Co. has also agreed to donate materials for the construction of the two-tier deck which will house food and drink concessions. The new deck arrangement replaces deteriorated bleachers that the village was set to replace anyway.

The local committee has also recycled some of the fencing at the park for the use in other areas in what will be a completely renovated ball field when the River Pigs start their play next summer. Other coming improvements include new roofs for recently uncovered dug-outs, parking lot improvements, Amish style team lockers/change rooms, some field lighting improvement and grandstand netting.

The ARISE organization, directed by Jim LaValley, approached the local Empire League committee and offered to help, citing similar economic goals.

The ARISE mission is to support economic growth in Tupper Lake, while respecting the natural resources that make our area unique. This includes tourism, manufacturing, development of the second home community and the service industry here.

More information about this campaign can be obtained from any of the local volunteers or by calling the Lake Placid-based Adirondack Foundation at (518) 523-9904.