KLL Park’s future could be at Volcanoes Stadium; Plans include ‘mini-Fenway’

The owners of the Mavericks League are proposing to rebuild the Keizer’s youth league fields at the stadium and add a scaled down Fenway Park replica to the mix.

This story includes updates from the original version. The leadership of the Keizer youth leagues are also pushing back on which proposals were endorsed by their organizations.

Volcanoes Stadium owners Jerry and Lisa Walker, as well as their son, Mickey – doing business as Love of the Game, LLC – could be the new managers of Keizer Little League Park if a proposal to do so earns the favor of the Keizer City Council.

The original proposal from For Love of the Game suggests relocating the park within three years, an addendum submitted later than the original offers suggested improvements if the park were to remain in its current location for longer than three years, possibly permanently.

“We would absolutely operate youth baseball at KLL Park and have expressed our willingness to do so. Our goal is to make youth baseball the best it can be in this area, whether it be at a brand new complex or being able to update the existing complex. We just want to provide more opportunities for youth baseball than have ever been around before,” Mickey Walker said.

City Attorney Shannon Johnson said a committee formed by the city council is recommending the For Love of the Game proposal solely based on its plans for maintaining the current park.

The Walkers’ initial proposal suggests selling or leasing the current site and combining the revenue with state funding to install 10-12 fields wrapping around the existing minor league stadium. The fields would continue to operate at the existing location for two years and then shift to new fields at the stadium.

Existing Volcanoes employees would take on the responsibility of maintaining the fields, scheduling and marketing the fields for youth and adult tournaments. Some access to the Volcanoes’ indoor training facility could also be provided according to the proposal.

For Love of the Game also proposes building a youth-league replica of Boston’s Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox.

“Mini Feni would be the proverbial icing on the cake making the complex a must see, must go there, must play there for folks across the western United States,” the proposal states.

The Walkers propose working with the city to open the replica stadium in time for the 2022 season.

No plans for how concessions would work are included in the proposal.

An addendum to the proposal provides some additional details regarding repairs to the existing park as plans to rebuild unfold. Youth leagues would have access to the new fields at least Monday through Thursday, but public access to the fields might be more limited than at the existing site.

“The city can be sure of our commitment as our reputation hangs in the balance and we will approach this as we have the Volcanoes’ business over the past 24 years – under promise, over deliver,” the proposal concludes.

The selection committee that evaluated proposals was made up of City Manager Pro Temp Tim Wood, Keizer Public Works Director Bill Lawyer, Keizer Parks Supervisor Robert Johnson, city councilors Kyle Juran and Dan Kohler, and Dylan Juran, a member of the Keizer Parks Advisory Board.

The two proposals the city received for the future management at Keizer Little League Park couldn’t have been more different.

The other proposal, from a group of four Pacific Northwest tournament organizers, would have kept the park at its existing location, but only one of the principals would have had local ties.

The group planned to use draw on connections with teams throughout the region to schedule tournaments when youth leagues are not using the fields. Concessions would be subcontracted and profits split between participating groups.

They hoped to organize Oregon Youth All State Games, evaluation camps for Fastpitch NW and submit bids to host state championships for Little League and JBO organizations. Sponsorships for fields and even the facility name were listed as possible revenue streams.

Within five years, the group hoped to investigate converting the park to turf surfaces, which might have opened up the window to year-round usage. That will not happen for a decade under the Walkers’ plan. 

The proposal included a letter of endorsement from the presidents of Keizer Little League and Keizer Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth leagues. The submission from For Love of the Game claims support from the same individuals but nothing in the packet independently supports that claim. McNary Youth Baseball board of directors chose not to endorse either plan despite its president, Rob Tavares’ name being including in the endorsement letter in the packet from the tournament organizers.