PORT ANGELES — Play ball.
The Port Angeles Lefties open their season today with optimism and the assurance that Civic Field will be their ballpark for years to come.
The City Council last week approved a five-year facility use agreement with MACK Athletics, Inc., the Lefties’ parent company, that will allow the summer collegiate baseball team to play in the city-owned stadium at 307 S. Race St., in Port Angeles through 2024.
“I am so grateful that we have an active baseball team here in Port Angeles,” City Council member Cherie Kidd said before the unanimous vote May 21.
“It has created excitement. It’s brought in visitors and revenue. It’s so fun in the summer to drive down Race Street and see all that excitement and activity at Civic Field.”
The Lefties begin play with exhibition games against the Northwest Honkers at 6:35 p.m. today and Friday.
After another exhibition game against a Cuban team in Victoria on Sunday — and a road trip to Portland next week — the Lefties will return to Civic Field on June 7-9 for a weekend series against the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast League.
Port Angeles joined the wood-bat West Coast League as a new franchise in 2017. It is the only West Coast League team on the North Olympic Peninsula.
“Port Angeles is a baseball town,” Kidd said, “and now we have a team to get behind.”
“They’ve invested in us and we’re investing in them,” she added.
The Lefties are renting Civic Field for $291.75 per game this year, or $10,211 for the 35-home game season.
The per-game cost will rise by 3 percent in each of the next five years, according to the terms of the facility use agreement.
Revenue from the agreement will be placed into a special city fund for improvements to Civic Field such as a new wheelchair ramp and hand railings for the stairs in the main grandstand, Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat has said.
The Lefties also have made improvements to Civic Field, most recently a new walkway behind the bleachers, concrete stairs from the north parking lot, new concession stands and an improved sound system.
“Our Civic Field looks fabulous,” Kidd said.
The city received $250,000 in lodging taxes for capital improvements to Civic Field in 2017 and 2018 that came as a result of the Lefties being established.
The city spent $117,500 in lodging tax funds to upgrade the facility before the first game in June 2017, including the replacement of a leaky Civic Field roof and the purchase of a home run fence.
Civic Field also is used for the Port Angeles High School football, baseball and soccer teams; Wilder baseball; youth baseball and high school graduations.
“I’m just so proud of the Lefties and of the management and the spark they’ve brought to Port Angeles, in addition to economic development,” Kidd said.
“This is a fun way to have economic development. Just get a baseball team and everybody comes.”
For information on the Lefties, visit www.paleftiesbaseball.com.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at email@example.com.