To most, it is a dirty patch in a small Calvert County park. But to Bill Burns, Cove Point Park is a field of dreams--a place he hopes will host the 2000 Babe Ruth World Series for 12-year-olds, bringing prestige and tourist dollars to Southern Maryland.
Burns, president of Solomons Youth Baseball Optimists of Lusby, told county commissioners Tuesday that the Babe Ruth League Inc. is considering Calvert as a finalist to host the celebrated series next summer.
"This is a very big thing," Burns told the board. "If we can demonstrate we can do a good World Series, they tend to go back to those places again and again. We're talking about an event that could draw 3,000 people for 10 days."
Burns said the national baseball organization is especially interested in holding next year's World Series in Maryland because it plans to change the name of the 12-year-old-and-under category from the Bambino Division to the Cal Ripken Division, after the legendary player for the Baltimore Orioles.
Ripken would likely appear at the series, which would be broadcast to a national audience on a cable television sports channel, Burns said.
Cove Point Park is an appealing location because it is located in Lusby, just a few miles from Solomons Island, Burns said.
"It's a resort-type area, where people like to come for vacation," he said. "There's a lot of things for parents to see and do while they're here with their kids." Officials estimate the 10-day series could pump $750,000 into the local economy.
At least 10 teams from eight regions around the country would compete in the series, Burns said. Calvert has hosted regional and state championships but this would mark the first time the county was the site for a Babe Ruth World Series, he said.
The national baseball organization is open to players from age 5 to 18 and holds World Series events for several age categories, each in a different spot around the country. The event proposed for Calvert would be for 12-year-olds.
Hosting the event would cement Southern Maryland's growing reputation as baseball country, Burns said. "It wasn't the case 10 years ago, but between girls softball and Babe Ruth and Little League, we're becoming a mecca," he said.
To be selected, Calvert County would have to significantly spruce up one of its three fields at Cove Point park by growing grass on its bald surface, installing fencing, dugouts and bleachers that can seat 2,500, among other improvements. The cost could reach $100,000, which includes a $40,000 fee that would be paid to the national organization, said Al Muncey, president of Babe Ruth for Solomons Youth Baseball.
In Loudoun County, where Purcellville hosted the Babe Ruth World Series for 16-year-olds last summer, the local Babe Ruth organization spent $240,000 to upgrade the town's Fireman's Field. Nearly all of that money was recouped through souvenir, concession and ticket sales.
Burns and Muncey told the Calvert commissioners they will seek public and private funds. County Commissioner Barbara A. Stinnett (D-At Large) said state grants may be available.
The county commissioners appointed a committee to study the park improvement issues and come up with options and cost estimates by early September. Officials from Babe Ruth League Inc. are expected to visit Calvert County in mid-September and make their decision soon after. Burns said a community in California also is under consideration.