Brother Rice makes home plate in Troy

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published February 29, 2012

 The Brother Rice Warriors play ball at St. James Park in Birmingham as the home team last year.

The Brother Rice Warriors play ball at St. James Park in Birmingham as the home team last year.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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After years without a baseball field to call their own, Brother Rice High School, regarded as one of the premier baseball programs in the state, will play ball in Troy.

The Troy City Council unanimously approved preliminary plans for the boys Catholic college preparatory high school in Bloomfield Township to build a baseball field near near Maple and Coolidge.

Plans call for a ball field on the south side of Equity, on a 5-acre vacant field on a dead-end street in a light industrial district.

Because the site is controlled by consent judgment, the City Council is the ruling body, City Planner Brent Savidant said at council’s Feb. 6 meeting.

If the site were not controlled by consent judgment, the approval of the plan would be handled administratively, Savidant said.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of the plans.

Savidant said the school sought to get property for the field in Birmingham, but was unsuccessful.

Brother Rice has used the field in St. James Park in Birmingham as its home field since 1963. Brother John Birney, president of Brother Rice, said the school had been looking for a home field since 2007. School officials explored purchasing six acres at 2400 E. Lincoln in a partnership with the city of Birmingham in November of 2010, but the deal fell through.

Birmingham Planning Director Jana Ecker said the school had been considering a couple of sites, including one in Pontiac, before pursuing the deal to buy property on Lincoln from the bank. The plans were approved by the Birmingham Planning Board and submitted to the Birmingham City Commission Feb. 28, 2011, for the city to pay for one-third or $396,000 of the project. After that, residents and property owners of the Clover Hill Park Cemetery, adjacent to the parcel in question, had concerns about lighting and loud speakers from the proposed field, and Brother Rice officials did not pursue that deal.

The Warrior baseball team took state championships in ’92, ’94 and 2008.

The plans for the Brother Rice Warrior Park Baseball Field include a paved plaza and a simply designed ball field. The parcel is exempt from taxes.

Zachary Branigan of Carlisle/ Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, said the firm supports the project with the stipulation that a bike rack be added, and the developer for the school provide landscaping on the site and submit a lighting plan.

“The proposed plan would not impact any protected natural features,” Branigan said.

Savidant said that work on the ball field is scheduled to start this spring.

In a letter dated Jan. 2 to the city of Troy, Birney states that a typical high school baseball game has approximately 50 fans in attendance, and a parking lot for 40 cars would be sufficient. He said the 90-day season runs from mid-March through mid-June, and teams play or practice six days a week, weather permitting.

Brother Rice High School officials could not be reached for further comment.

Staff Writer Brad Bates contributed to this report.
 

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