After years of discussion and planning, Wauwatosa residents and school officials celebrated a new Breitlow Field at its opening day Saturday, May 24, in a game pitting East High School against West.
Where there used to be one full-sized diamond shared by both high schools, the park now has two 90-foot diamonds with turf on the infields and a smaller practice infield for younger players. The project cost the school district about $1.3 million, with construction beginning last summer and the park's grass filling in this spring.
Stan Zurawski, who lives next to the field, said it was "wonderful" to see the field complete. He said he and about 1,000 other residents pushed the school board to improve the field, rather than selling it as previously proposed.
"We had a showdown," Zurawski said. "When people come up and say, 'Thank you for all the work you did,' it's worth it. The kids are so overjoyed because it's such a fantastic field."
Zurawski's family joined school officials in cutting the ribbon on opening day.
"I hope people will always remember the work that was done, and hopefully future generations remember what's important," he said.
In past years, the diamond was fenced in and locked shut. Tom Kulczewski, manager of buildings and grounds, said it was important to the district to make the new fields open to the public as much as possible. Because of that goal, the district does not plan on renting out the field, despite some requests to do so.
"There's not a lot of space in Tosa," Kulczewski said. "Now, with the turf, we want people to go out there and playing baseball and kickball, to just have a place to run around. We want residents to use it as much as possible."
Kulczewski said the turf allows the district to use the fields for multiple levels of play. The pitcher's mound and bases can be moved in or out and secured in various plugs so Little League and high school games can be played in succession. It also has superior drainage, nearly ruling out the possibility of calling a game due to rain.
According to Athletic Director Jeff Gabrielsen, Wauwatosa players were scheduled to play a game at Homestead High School on May 27, but they moved the game to Breitlow because the Homestead field was too flooded.
"We're proud to have one of the nicest facilities in the state," Gabrielsen said. "It's not only beautiful for the eyes; it's a very user-friendly field."
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