College students take lead to draft fundraising plan

Effort boosts park project

GREENFIELD — A group tasked with overseeing the construction of a 27-acre Greenfield park hopes the work of management and marketing students will help secure funding for the project.

The $600,000 first phase of construction on Franklin Park, a 27-acre piece of land located just west of Greenfield Central Junior High, is nearing completion. But the park and sports complex is expected to cost up to $2 million, which recently led organizers to enlist students from Anderson University to create sponsorship, Web and social media materials to help boost fundraising efforts.

Upon completion, Franklin Park will hold 12 baseball fields for ages 5 to 18, as well as a 400-space parking lot, two concession stands and more, officials said. Officials hope to be able to add playground equipment to the park’s offerings as well.

Over the past few months, seven undergraduates majoring in sports marketing have worked to help the park’s leaders develop sponsorship materials, branding and a social media strategy, said Anna Stumpf, who teaches marketing at Anderson University.

Those students laid the groundwork for future interns in the program to connect park officials to sponsors and donors, creating a revenue stream for the complex, Stumpf said. She hopes to see her students be able to get involved in customer service and management of the park when it opens, she added.

The two groups have been able to jointly meet one another’s needs, said Franklin Park board member Greg Roland. The sports marketing program has existed at Anderson University for only a year, and the seven students represent the inaugural internship program, which gives the marketing students hands-on experience in creating sponsorship materials, Roland said.

And for the park’s committee, “a lot of the guys in our group are coaches, (so) when we’re out playing baseball, sometimes, it’s hard for us to reach out and do fundraising or look for corporate sponsorships,” he said.

Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department officials have for nearly a decade discussed moving the baseball diamonds out of their current location in Riley Park, said parks superintendent Ellen Kuker.

“For the parks department, it’s about safety,” Kuker said. “Riley Park doesn’t have the best layout to support the number of people and the traffic that GYBA brings to our park. It makes sense to move the diamonds someplace where they have a little more space to grow.”

The eight-member Franklin Park board, which comprises four members from the Greenfield Youth Baseball Association and four from the Indiana Bandits baseball league, oversees the progress of the construction of the park, which began in 2015, said Alex Stanley, chairman of the board.

The two groups banded together in 2014 to build the $2 million park using all private funding — no city dollars — by getting sponsorship commitments from local and regional businesses, as well as individuals.

About $500,000 has been raised through loans and sponsorships, and the group has received about $100,000 in donations of supplies or labor, Roland said. Another $100,000 is needed in order to complete the first phase of construction, which includes adding fences around the ball diamonds and finishing the parking lots, he said.

In addition to the sponsorship help from the interns, the board seeks to raise money through naming rights on paving stones and dugouts, Roland said.

Construction on the complex is ahead of schedule, and several local baseball teams have been practicing on the fields this spring, Stanley said. Seven of the 12 diamonds and one of the concession stands are slated to be complete by spring 2018, in time for baseball season, he said.

The park has been a long time coming, parks department officials said.

The Greenfield-Central Community School Corp. in 2008 made a land swap with the parks department, offering to trade the 27 acres where Franklin Park will be located for the Mary Moore Park and the soccer area north of the high school, Stanley said.

Help the Franklin Park project

Officials leading the construction of the 27-acre Franklin Park project, slated for completion in 2020, are seeking donors to purchase naming rights of flagstones, baseball diamonds and dugouts. For more information, contact Franklin Park board member Greg Roland at 317-408-0492.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.