Making a “pitch” for cricket in Dardenne Prairie depends on the ability of its proponents to pay for a place to play it.
A related issue, involving parking near where cricket could be played and where soccer fields already are in use, also could be a thorny issue facing city officials.
Dardenne Prairie Mayor David Zucker laid out a complicated scenario at the city’s Board of Aldermen meeting on May 4 involving an area of Barethaven Park, where the cricket playing surfaces could be located between existing soccer fields.
Adjacent to the 80-acre park are parking lots used by park goers that are part of the former Lindenwood University Nursing and Allied Health Center building and property, which may be sold now that nursing classes are no longer be taught there.
Zucker said the city currently has no assurance that anyone buying the Lindenwood property would allow the present parking lots to be used by the public for park activities. If parking isn’t allowed, the city may consider using an easement to build a driving lane and a new parking lot that would take up space possibly set aside for the cricket fields.
Cricket in Dardenne Prairie became a topic of discussion in February when the city received a request from the American Cricket Academy and Club of St. Louis for several fields or “pitches” to be built in city parks.
Ajay Jhamb, a spokesman for the academy and Dardenne Prairie resident, said the academy is willing to pay for the cost of laying out the pitches in areas between soccer fields at Barethaven Park.
The city last year approved a contract to relocate a trail near Dardenne Creek controlled by the Gateway Greenway, the regional parks and trail district, around the fields and conduct repairs. That work would leave room for the installation of several pitches.
Cricket, one of the most popular sports in the world, is a bat-and-ball game played by teams of 11 players on a rectangle 22-yard field or “pitch.” It shares some terminology with baseball because a “batter” strikes ball to score “runs” during “innings.”
Zucker told the board that the city received change orders from the contractor for the trail relocation that indicate the cost of adding cricket pitches as $26,887 for one pitch, $35,500 for two and $46,500 for two pitches plus a practice pitch.
The cost figures were turned over to Jhamb to evaluate and for fundraising purposes. The city also wants to act on the change orders later this month and doesn’t want the work dragged out into June. However, if the academy has the funding by that time, they can enter a written agreement with the city to pay for the additional work.
The parking situation adds a risk factor on the cricket question, and Zucker noted that the academy may want to make a minimal investment for now.
“It’s a touch challenge for them,” he said.
Parking also poses a potentially expensive challenge for the city as any new owner of the Lindenwood property does not have to open up its parking lot.
“I have no idea if the new owner will say to the world ‘hey, you kids get off my parking lot,’” Zucker said.
The easement that the city could exercise to build a new parking lot was granted by Lindenwood to Great Rivers Greenway, Zucker said. It would allow the construction of an access driveway from the parking lot area across a baseball field to reach space for building an 80-space parking lot adjacent to a soccer field. The last city estimate for this scenario was $178,000 and the cost now could be at as high as $200,000, Zucker said.
Exercising the easement option may lessen the attractiveness of the property and may offer an incentive for working out an agreement for parking that would transfer when the property is sold, Zucker said, noting that the city has discussed the situation with Lindenwood.
But he added, “We don’t have to drive off that bridge at this time.”