Major League Baseball broke ground Wednesday on a ballpark at Fort Bragg. The ballpark will host a televised, official game between the Atlanta Braves and the Florida Marlins on July 3.
Eric Hill heads the Community Recreation Division on Fort Bragg. He says the MLB suggested the game as a way to thank military service members, and says the game is stirring up excitement on base.
"It's a big deal, historically. It's the first time that any Major League Baseball game, any professional sports game of any type, has been played on an active military installation," Hill said. "It's a big deal for us here at Fort Bragg in that we get to provide this excellent opportunity for service members and their families to enjoy the game here on the installation."
The temporary ballpark will seat up to 12,500 service members and their families. There are about 250,000 people stationed at Fort Bragg. The base is still working out how to distribute the tickets for the event.
Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred said in a press release that the Fort Bragg game is a way of thanking members of the military for their service.
“Major League Baseball’s boundless gratitude to our military has led us to a unique event that will benefit the men and women of Fort Bragg and their families for many years,” Manfred said. “I thank the Braves and the Marlins for their participation and all of our Clubs and Players for contributing to this gesture, which will stand as a fitting new chapter in the National Pastime’s proud and distinguished military history.”
Eric Hill says after the big game, the dugouts and fence line will remain, even though Fort Bragg doesn't have a baseball program on base.
"Softball tends to be a more inclusive sport so we can have more people participating," Hill said. "We are going to have them convert that field to a softball field so that we can continue to use that to support our programs in the future."
Hill says Fort Bragg plans to build more sports fields for service members to play on moving forward.