Championship field receives final grant

Championship field gets final grant

MAINEVILLE, Ohio -- The Kevin C. Barnhill Championship Field will be one of the region's premier youth baseball facilities, complete with natural turf infields and outfields, enclosed dugouts and bullpen, an electronic outfield scoreboard and even a concourse area with stadium-style bleachers and a press box.

But the most memorable feature will be the memorial plaza.

Kevin Barnhill's life was cut short in August 2006 when the 27-year-old became the victim of a homicide in Mason, Ohio. At the time, he worked in ticket operations for the Reds. Friends and family describe Kevin as a fun-loving, hard-working young man who loved life.

The field and memorial is the dream of Kevin's parents, Bill and Barbara. Their hometown of Maineville is a sprawling suburban community northeast of Cincinnati where Kevin was raised. They wanted to honor him by giving back to the community in which he matured into adulthood.

At a ceremony on Aug. 25, almost two years to the day since his son's life was taken, Bill announced the final monetary donation that will now make his dream a reality.

"It is clearly the belief of one organization that has put us over the hump," said Bill, from a pavilion adjacent to the field that will soon be adorned with his son's name. "It is my honor to formally announce that this project has been the recipient of a grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund in the amount of $55,000.

"It is my belief that this project is clearly aligned with the goals of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. And those goals are to enhance and promote baseball throughout the world, [and] funding field improvements and equipment purchases to encourage youth participation in baseball and softball.

"The Kevin C. Barnhill Memorial Scholarship and Community Outreach Fund is grateful, and extends its thanks to the executive board of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and its executive director, Cathy Bradley."

Since its inception in 1999, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund has awarded grants totaling more than $10 million benefiting nearly 120,000 youth participating in more than 200 baseball and softball programs across the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.

The Kevin C. Barnhill Memorial Scholarship Fund collaborated with the Reds Community Fund, the Hamilton Township Park Board, Michael Schuster Associates, Inc. and the Warren County Foundation to bring this project to life.

Immediately after Kevin's untimely death, the Reds Community Fund, the official nonprofit of the Cincinnati Reds, stepped in to renovate six existing fields at Testerman Park and has contributed $25,000 to the championship field.

"Kevin was a dedicated and fabulous employee of the Reds for more than five years," said Charley Frank, executive director of the Reds Community Fund. "He left a legacy through his good work and his countless friendships that remains very strong.

"This is a way for us to take that legacy and bring it back to Kevin's home. We're so excited to see that the Baseball Tomorrow Fund has recognized the hard work that Bill and Barbara have put into this project and to reward them with this generous donation."

The complex is being designed by Michael Schuster Associates, Inc., the same company that designed Great American Ball Park -- the home of the Reds.

Upon completion, the championship field will be turned over to the Hamilton Township Park Board, who will operate and maintain the facilities.

The field will serve as home for the Little Miami Youth Athletic Association District 42 Knothole Baseball league and the Warren County Little League, in addition to hosting all levels of high school and regional tournament games.

The Kevin C. Barnhill Memorial Scholarship and Community Outreach Fund is administered by the Warren County Foundation.

In 2007, annual scholarships for Little Miami High School seniors were created by the fund to award students who best personify the athletic, academic achievement and leadership qualities that Kevin exhibited throughout his school career.

The fund will also participate in other projects designed to improve the quality of life of the youth in the greater Warren County area.