The Vienna Little League celebrated its 50th anniversary last summer with commemorative pins, T-shirts and banners. But the league's longevity also was evident in less festive ways; facilities and fields at the league's Yeonas Park site are more than 40 years old and in need of repair.
Because of the deterioration, the league has planned a $450,000 facilities upgrade, and on Oct. 9, that effort got a significant boost.
The House Appropriations Committee included a $100,000 grant to the little league in the fiscal year 2003 Veteran's Affairs/Housing and Urban Development spending bill. The money was included under HUD's Economic Development Initiative program. The bill still needs approval from the full House, which could come before the end of the year.
League leaders approached Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) about the possibility of federal assistance last spring, according to league chairman Bill Cervenak. Davis said he was interested in the project and helped ensure its inclusion in the appropriations bill, according to David Marin, a Davis spokesman.
"Tom made it clear that it was a top priority for him," Marin said. "He's a big proponent of youth sports; he believes in their ability to educate and develop the leaders of tomorrow."
If the grant is included in the final version of the bill, the little league would need to approve its plans with HUD before the money could be spent. Cervenak said the money would likely be used to modernize the snack bar building and upgrade the fields and facilities. None of the funds would be used for equipment, upkeep or operational expenses.
"We're bursting at the seams," Cervenak said. "We need to upgrade all the facilities so they're ready for the next 50 years."
The league is averaging 1,200 participants a year, and its annual budget is around $195,000, Cervenak said.
Although the league will attempt the facilities improvement project even if the funding falls through, Cervenak has high hopes of receiving good news before the end of the year.
"If we don't get it, we'll find out another way to get around it," said Cervenak, who has been involved with the Vienna Little League for more than a decade. "But hopefully we'll get a nice Christmas present."