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Ground is broken on Gary Gaetti Sports Center

Ground is broken on Gary Gaetti Sports Center

A large crowd gathered to watch the Thursday groundbreaking for the first phase of the Meadow Woods Golf Course retransformation.   Photo by Pat Hodges.

A large group showed up for the groundbreaking Thursday for the Gary Gaetti Sports Center on the former Meadow Wood Golf Course property in Centralia.

Gaetti says he’s glad to be giving back to the community where he grew up.

“I’d just like to say publicly thank my heavenly father and the Lord Jesus for allowing this to happen and to allow me to work with these guys.  And I would like to ask him to bless this land, bless our efforts that we in return can be a blessing in this community.  And to be able to reach people and be of service to them.”

The $750,000 18,000 square foot building will have a full major league size infield with 30 feet of outfield so full indoor practices can be completed.

The restaurant will have 400 table seat capacity and 600 or more theater-style seating that will allow for the hosting of events. Other phases will include cottages along Raccoon Lake and estate homes.

Centralia Mayor Herb Williams said he is “excited, very excited” about the development.

Former Mayor Tom Ashby thanked the developers.

“I want to say how great it is for the community and how much we’ve moved forward where we have somebody who wants to come in and invest in our community.  It’s great we have our present business reinvest but to have somebody come in from the outside and give their own money and sweat and bring these types of people together and how great of a benefit it is for our community itself.”

City Manager Dan Ramey says the city’s help will benefit the entire neighborhood.

“It has been interesting with negotiations and some of the things that we are going to be doing out here with roads and things that won’t only help the facility but the entire area.  Everything is a win-win deal so we look forward to finishing up some things and watching it happen.  We appreciate you.”

Joining Gaetti in the instruction will be former major leaguers Kirk Reuter, Bryan Eversgerd and Dwight Bernard.

Developer Greg Sutton says this will be the only facility with four baseball World Series ring wearers leading the player development effort.“We hope to be open in September.  So it will take us a few months of construction and be open with the Sports Academy and will move on to Phase 2 which is the restaurant.”