Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the area around the historic Sherman Field ballpark will be named Sampson Park to honor a local family. And he invited the public to participate in the Sherman Field Forever fund-raising campaign for renovations at the facility.
The park is being named for Morris "Sam" and Evelyn Sampson who founded Sampson Construction Company in Lincoln in 1952. The naming recognizes a significant contribution from their son, the current President, John Sampson. The company, which employs about 300 workers, is donating about $445,000 in labor and materials for renovation work at Sherman Field. John Sampson's ties to the Sherman Field include watching the Lincoln Chiefs as a boy, playing catcher for Gary's Sports Shop and Lincoln High School and sponsoring Lincoln High's American Legion team for many years.
"This is one of the largest donations ever made to our City's Parks and Recreation programs," said Mayor Beutler. "We sincerely thank John and his family for helping to build Lincoln and for their generous contribution to the iconic Sherman Field. This is a great example of how a hard working family built a very successful company and have now chosen to give back to make Lincoln an even greater place to live and play."
While the 64-year old field and grandstand were renovated in 1997, the original support facilities need replacement. The renovation project includes two new dugouts, a new maintenance and training building, a restroom building, a ticket and concession building, a new concourse, energy efficient field lighting and a reorganized parking lot with ADA accessibility. The dugouts are finished and the rest of the renovation is expected to be completed by December.
The Lincoln Parks Foundation (LPF) is spearheading the $2.2 million fund-raising campaign. Lincoln natives Joba Chamberlain and Alex Gordon, both current Major League Baseball players, are Honorary Co-Chairs of the Sherman Field Forever Campaign. The campaign cabinet includes John Sampson, Leslie Gordon, Bill Fagler and Dick Clarence.
Lincoln Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson said the project is important because Sherman Field is the primary venue for high school and American Legion baseball games. Between mid-March through mid-July, the field hosts about 250 games. The state high school baseball tournament will use the field through 2012.
"Of all the high school fields in Nebraska, Sherman Field is a favorite among players, coaches and fans because of its history, field surface and the large grandstand, which gives everyone the feeling of being in a big ballpark," Johnson said.
LPF President Liz Lange said nearly two-thirds of the funds for the Sherman Field Forever campaign have been committed. The City is investing $500,000, and $163,000 in federal stimulus funds have been used for energy efficient field lighting. Another $150,000 is coming from the lodging tax revenue in the Lancaster County Visitor's Improvement Fund, and the Lincoln Cares community donation program is providing $40,000. The Lincoln Community Foundation has given a $50,000 grant on behalf of the Myrtle E. Clark Fund, Helen E. Clough Children & Youth Field of Interest Fund, Maurguerite A. Hac Children & Youth Field of Interest Fund, Frances V. H. James Memorial Fund and Maude Hollingshead Memorial Fund.
Lange invited the community to participate by donating cash or purchasing tiles and pavers which will be installed on the new entrance plaza at Sherman Field. More information is available at www.ShermanField.org.
"This field has an incredible history, serving semi-pro players and thousands of young baseball players since 1947," Lange said. "We need the community's help to finish this project so Lincoln can keep the state high school baseball tournament and the American Legion league for many years to come."