Build it, and they will come.
So goes the (paraphrased) quote from “Field of Dreams,” the 1989 mystical movie about the Iowa farmer who decides to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield one day.
In Morgantown, Heidi and Greg Matheny, a married couple whose children came up playing sports at University High School, want to do the same thing for the sprawling campus on Baker Ridge.
Well, actually, their dream runs a few fields beyond the movie.
Their vision, as they told members of the Monongalia County Board of Education on Tuesday night, includes a baseball diamond and a softball field.
Tennis courts, too.
Don’t forget the cross-country course that would spiral out from the complex – to go with another field, where the Hawks marching band can practice its halftime show.
Visit https://www.uhssportscomplex.com/ for the full details on the project and the launch of its campaign.
It won’t be cheap, the couple said. It will take some $5 million to make this dream real.
However, just like Kevin Costner in the movie, Heidi Matheny said she hopes all the players involved – or, who are about to be involved – act on the bases-loaded convergence for this one.
“We really have a great group of parents right now,” she said. “We have a lot of in-kind support we want to capitalize on.”
That includes capitalizing on University High’s literal field – the 90-acre expanse it calls home.
A hilly, lofty expanse, Greg Matheny said, that has the best scenic views and sunsets ever offered on a football Friday night across the region.
“I think we all know you’re not gonna find a better place,” he said.
Heidi Matheny, meanwhile, says she hopes the project, and the grant proposal she wrote to go with it, finds a good place through AMLER, the Abandoned Mine Lands Revitalization Program.
Since its founding in 2016, AMLER has awarded more than $180 in such monies for such projects across the Mountain State.
AMLER, though, historically, doesn’t give full dollars for the full price of the projects it considers.
Which is precisely why Heidi Matheny, in the way of a manager calling for a sacrifice fly to bring a runner across the plate from third, went for it all in her request – so she could be talked down, if AMLER does give the nod.
“I’ll take what I can get,” she said.
She’ll also take all that aforementioned in-kind support, also, which, in many cases, is coming by way like-minded contractors who have already offered to start churning the earth for this real-life field of dreams.
The program that could bring the project home favors such late-inning rallies, she said.
Mon President Ron Lytle agreed – and gave his own Field of Dreams riff.
If the people arrive, he said, the complex gets built.
“We need people with solid buy-in,” said the board president, who is also support of the project.
“The whole community has to buy in for this project to happen.”