Ballparks of the Ozarks, LLC intends to draw ballplayers and their families all across the Midwest to Camden County, but COO Bob Ramsey says they also want the facility to serve the local community.

Ballparks of the Ozarks, LLC intends to draw ballplayers and their families all across the Midwest to Camden County, but COO Bob Ramsey says they also want the facility to serve the local community.

Last week, Ramsey, along with the private development’s attorneys Dan Cook and Scott Riley of Cook and Riley Law Firm from St. Louis, met with Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty and Second District Commissioner Don Williams to discuss ongoing construction progress and new details about the 293-acre development.

“We want to make sure our park is always available. Our park is for the local kids and we really want to build up baseball. So, we want it not just to be a mecca for everyone around the Midwest and across the country to come and play, but we want this area to be known that our baseball is good,” the former sports radio caster said. “It’s a place for kids, a top-notch facility to train and to learn and play. We’ve got some ideas on things we want to do; we’re not quite ready to announce it, but it’s very local orientated.”

Ramsey and partner, CEO Jeff Vernetti, are working to secure the last stage of funding from a group of private investors as excavation work on the site is near completion. Since hosting a construction groundbreaking ceremony three months ago in September, construction crews have cleared land, cut a road to access U.S. Highway 54 and began installing piping infrastructure.

“I was absolutely stunned when I heard they hadn’t hit rock. They’ve gone 30-foot cuts without hitting rock. I thought they wouldn’t be able to go three feet,” Hasty said. “I was thinking ‘my God the rock will kill them.’ This is going to be a big asset for the county, no question about it, and we appreciate you guys basically sticking your necks way out there for this area.”

Ramsey estimated Kissick Construction has moved roughly 250,000 yards of dirt since initial ground clearing work began.

“We’ve been really fortunate, we were concerned. We’re still on track to play some baseball in this calendar year,” Ramsey said. “We knew our first year, whenever we began, it was going to be a toe in the water, but it would allow for us to market for a full, resounding season in 2018. So, we’re still on track to play some baseball this summer.”

Thomas Construction is designing the clubhouse facility, including the kitchen and Ramsey said the company is working on creative ways to enhance the traditional concession stand experience.

“We will have a large kitchen with what we call traditional concession stand food, but we want it to be top quality. In addition, we want to have our own smoker and do our own barbecue,” Ramsey said. “We’re considering food trucks to add to what we’re doing, mobile apps to order food, we want to make sure everybody has a hotdog and beverage in their hands. There will be a number of quality positions we will be interviewing for, food and beverage is one of the key employees and there are a lot of quality people at the Lake.”

Williams said he was particularly excited about the prospect of working in conjuncture with the local community, more job opportunities and possibly partnering with Macks Creek Park, which the commission is working with Senate Bill 40 Board to make ADA accessible, to provide training facilities for local Special Olympics athletes and other community-based organizations.

“We’re very excited about this project. That’s a part of the county that needs some economic development, and it’s suffered over the last 15 years or so,” Williams said. “If you could work with them, you could earn a ton of goodwill around here.”

Ramsey said he would “absolutely” work with the community for things like that and with local kids and host events to bring people in to enjoy the Lake community.

“We love our spot, we love where we are. We’re working on ways to incentivize week-long tournaments, bookend days around the events and help businesses in the region,” he said. “Typically, you’d check in Sunday and wrap up by Friday, we want to take Wednesday off. Get a day of rest, now teams can reset their pitching and it theoretically makes the tournament more competitive. While they’re resting, they’re renting a boat, playing golf, shopping, which makes all of us happy.”

By around March 2018, Ramsey hopes, the facility will be running at full-capacity with around 100 total employees in landscaping, food and beverage, sales and marketing and game operations positions.

In October, the company filed a Community Improvement District (CID) petition which was approved by the county clerk. Riley said the company has already filed public notices in the Lake Sun in the first two weeks of January and the next step would be for the commission to approve a CID ordinance and host a public hearing where citizens can ask questions about the project before the special taxing district can be formed.

If approved, the CID would be appointed its own governing board that can implement a sales tax up to one percent to provide funding for specialized parts of the development.

Attorney Gary Smith, who’s representing the county, said the commission could essentially approve the CID ordinance by the end of the month in one meeting, which would trigger Riley to inform the Department of Revenue, State Auditor’s Office and Department of Economic Development before the quarter ends March 31 and begin the CID formation process.

“I think the ordinance looks perfect. Obviously the political side, that’s y’all, but legally I think it’s all fine, it’s all in order, it’s all ready to go,” Smith said. “I don’t see any roadblocks at all.”

Both commissioners Hasty and Williams said they did not foresee any issues arising and would plan to pass the ordinance on an upcoming agenda by the end of January.