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"Field of Dreams" for Youth of All Abilities Holds Grand Opening Celebration Saturday

After more than five years of planning, the Carrier Park Field of Dreams in DeWitt is ready to hold a grand opening celebration Saturday after construction on the first phase of the park was completed last fall.  Dom Cambarerihas been waiting for this moment since the idea to build a fully-accessible, multi-sports park was first born about 10 years ago.

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Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Dom Cambareri, left, and Ed Michalenko share a laugh at the Carrier Park Field of Dreams.

"This is the firsst phase of the dream become reality," Cambareri said.

Cambareri is founder of the Carrier Park Field of Dreams, and program director for the Syracuse Challengers baseball team.  The park is tucked behind Carrier's campus on 25 acres of land the company donated to the town of DeWitt in 2010.  The space includes two fully accessible little league baseball diamonds and field-level dugouts. 

"You can see that they've been designed with extra wide entryways to accommodate children and adults with wheelchairs," Cambareri said.  "Inside the dugout itself, there is significant amount of space for at least 6 or 7 wheelchairs, as well as the rest of the able-bodied players who can sit on the benches."

Cambareri says the same accessibility applies to the field.

"When you look at the paths that lead to home plate, you'll see the specially designed path  comes from the exit of the dugout.  Any a child or adult who has an orthopedic assistive device, a wheelchair, or canadian crutches will be able to make their way to home plate very easily," Cambareri said.

He says the two entrance buildings with restrooms and concessions are also fully accessible.  The second phase will include the creation of two superfields, which can be converted to accommodate multiple sports, from football and soccer to lacrosse and field hockey.  Cambareri says you’d be hard pressed to find such facilities anywhere in the country. 

"Because of its unique design incorporating the ability of special needs adults and children to be able to play here, as well as championship facilities, we believe we're going to to attract people and tournaments from the state of New York and up and down the east coast."

DeWitt town supervisor Ed Michalenko sees potential with the hotels and restaurants right across the street. 

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Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Crews water the field.

"This facility through its weekend tournaments can pay for itself," Michalenko said.  "We're looking at 22 weekends a year of bringing in people to the park that can generate about $2.5 million in economic activity a year."

The town bonded $4 million to build the park.  Michalenko says grants and donations have kept pace with their bond payments.  Now he's glad to have something to show other potential donors beyond dreams and drawings.  

Saturday's grand opening begins at 2:00, and will include exhibition games, food, live music, and entertainment