New baseball complexes planned for Darlington

Officials in Darlington may have to re-think a plan to use ballparks owned by the Darlington County School District for a future recreation complex.

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – A plan for new ball fields in downtown Darlington is almost ready to get underway.

It’s a favorite pastime for many: enjoying a baseball game on a summer evening. Some folks in Darlington will soon have even more opportunities to do just that–and officials said it will bring more tourism to the city as well.

“We already get the sports tourism from the race,” explained Darlington City Planning Director Lisa Chalian-Rock. “Now we want people to know we’ve got baseball and softball as well.”

Rock said work on the two new planned recreation complexes is nearly ready to get started.

“We have been searching for property for a recreational complex for at least three years,” Rock said.

The city hopes to renovate the current Virgil Wells Park, adding new fields for baseball and repairing other parts of the park.

City Council plans to use a $1.9 million hospitality bond to fund the construction, to include Blue Street Park next to Darlington High School, where Rock said a softball complex is planned.

“Part of it is owned by the school district,” Rock explained. “Part of it is owned by us, and part of it is private land that we purchased, it didn’t have houses on it.”

In addition to the fields at Virgil Wells, repairs to the city pool and other amenities are planned.

“In the end, we’ll have baseball fields at the Virgil Wells complex and softball at Blue Street,” Rock said.

Rock said the city hopes to use the added fields to promote itself as a destination for traveling baseball and softball teams, and lists bringing in tournaments as a big goal of the projects.

“Right now, I believe we’ve got six fields,” Rock said. “This would increase our number to eight, so we could definitely host tournaments and bring people in. Sports tourism is a big thing, so we definitely want to get some of that money and get those folks coming to Darlington.”

The Darlington County School District could make a decision on the ball fields as soon as the next board meeting on Monday.