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Elizabeth Forward's Wylie Field getting a facelift

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 1:16 a.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Daily News
Wylie Field, home of the Elizabeth Forward Warriors baseball team, will soon undergo renvoations.

A landmark playing field in Elizabeth is getting a facelift.

Wylie Field, the longtime home of Elizabeth Forward High School baseball games, will sport a new look for next season after workers give the complex a once-over.

The Elizabeth Forward School District in February purchased the field from Elizabeth Borough for $1.

“There's some great plans in the works,” Elizabeth Forward coach Frank Champ said. “You're going to see some nice renovations.”

Redrock Fence Inc., of White Oak, is expected to install a new fence at the field this summer at a cost of more than $53,000.

Already, Champ said two batting cages and two bullpen mounds have been added behind the existing left-field fence.

The field currently is enclosed by a fence that will be replaced by a black windscreen privacy fence. The dimensions of the field will change in various areas, such as behind home plate and in front of both dugouts.

“We're taking the backstop out, moving it back and putting fences in front of both dugouts,” Champ said. “That'll drop the backstop 15 feet or so back and the fences will connect with it there.”

Champ said it will give the field “a better baseball feel.

“Right now, if there's a passed ball or a wild pitch, the runner has a hard time advancing,” he said. “There's just not much room back there.”

Existing bleachers on the first- and third-base lines will be removed with a new set to be installed in left-center field and two more sets in center field on each side of a flagpole.

A scoreboard also is expected to be erected in right field. Basketball and tennis courts beyond the outfield will be replaced by a parking lot.

“The entire field will be in play now,” Champ said. “That's going to be an added plus.”

Elizabeth Forward has played its home games at Wylie Field during Champ's 1 -years as a coach with the program, 10 as head coach.

“I played on the field near the high school when I was in school,” he said. “We played some games there for awhile, but we've played mainly at Wylie Field. It's been a tough place for teams to come into. We're hoping the improvements will make it a better situation for everyone.”

Champ said the new amenities, such as the batting cages and bullpen mounds, will allow the varsity and junior varsity teams to practice together.

The junior varsity team previously had been bussed to Blythedale Field in Elizabeth Township.

“We were going in two different directions,” Champ said. “We actually had split practices. Now we'll be able to have the younger kids with our older guys and we'll have all five coaches working together with the players.”

Champ said the district also can save on the use of a bus.

School board president Philip Martell has been working closely with the project's plans, Champ said, adding that Martell has “really helped us tremendously.

“Phil has been a big driver of this project. He's been great and has kept our coaching staff included,” Champ said. “We've gone to Disney (in Orlando, Fla.) for the past six years to play some early games, and that was great. Then we'd come back and say, ‘Well, here we are at good old Wylie Field. This certainly is a much-needed upgrade.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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