NORTH ADAMS — On the day the NECBL unveiled its 2016 schedule, the North Adams SteepleCats report they have raised a portion of the $15,000 the team would like to have in order to make some upgrades and renovations at venerable Joe Wolfe Field.
The NECBL team has undertaken a campaign it calls 15 for 15, raising the $15,000 in honor of this summer being the 15th year the franchise has played at the stadium on Route 8.
"It's our 15th anniversary and we want to make it a big year for the SteepleCats," team president Dan Bosley said. "We're one of the oldest teams in the league right now. The league has been around for [23 years] and we've been around for 15 years.
"We want to commemorate that 15, but we also want to make some improvements to make the park a better experience for everybody."
The SteepleCats, who played their first NECBL game in 2002, will open their 2016 season at home on Thursday, June 9, against the New Bedford Bay Sox.
North Adams will play a 44-game season, up two from the previous 22 years. That's because the Upper Valley Nighthawks will play their inaugural season. The Nighthawks, who will play out of White River Junction, Vt., puts seven teams in the North Division and six remain in the South Division.
With the change, the SteepleCats will play 32 games against North Division foes and 12 games against the South teams. North Adams will play six games against traditional rivals Keene and the Valley Blue Sox (based in Holyoke), and five against the rest of the division.
"We're the smallest market in the league. Every year, we work very hard to try to give the fans a great experience," said Bosley.
The team has established a page to raise money on gofundme.com. If the entire $15,000 isn't raised before the start of the season, the money will be paid back to the team as the fund raising goes on.
The "to-do" list that comes out of the fund raising project includes replacing the screen behind home plate with netting that will run from staircase to staircase in the grandstand. That, according to Bosley, is one of the top tasks.
The team will also look to put up windscreens on the fencing outside of the park to promote the SteepleCats, along with the baseball programs at Drury, McCann Tech and MCLA. The list also includes a new public address and speaker system, dugout renovations, updated signage in the park, fixing bleacher seats, improving the plumbing for the concession stands and new ticket areas.
"Joe Wolfe Field at the Noel Field complex is an integral part of what North Adams is," said Bosley. "That field has been there since the 1920s as Noel Field, and Joe Wolfe has been there for 29 years.
"We started to integrate more of the history of the park and the beauty of the park, as part of who we are."
The 44-game regular season begins on June 8, and is scheduled to end on Aug. 1. Bosley said that he is happy with how the schedule-makers set up the SteepleCats' campaign.
"It's hard to make a schedule that accommodates everybody. I will say that the league bends over backwards to accommodate all of our special requests," said the club president.
That includes being home on July 4, having a full weekend of home games for the weekend when players' families come visit, and keeping the park open for the LaFesta baseball festival.
The SteepleCats will play four or more home games on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. In fact, the team will play six Sunday home games, beginning with the June 12 game against Danbury.
"We love home games on Sundays," said Bosley. "We started the family-friendly start time of 4:30 p.m. A lot of teams don't like Sunday home games. The reason is, at least in June, is that kids have to go back to school on Monday.
"We went to 4:30 on Sundays and we always have a pretty good crowd. We'll take as many home games as we can possibly get because it really works out well for us."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.