Braves Field, a planned baseball facility in Conway for special needs players, will have a special set of bleachers.
Organizers previously announced that they wanted to honor the legacy of the Conway Braves special needs baseball league with the naming of the facility. Taking it a step further, the grandstand will be named "Ben’s Bleachers" in memory of the original Conway Brave, Ben Patterson, who died in 2007.
Ben’s parents, Bill Patterson and Kim Mitchell, formed the Conway Braves more than a decade ago to give Ben and other special needs kids the opportunity to play baseball. It started in their backyard and grew to serve countless kids over the years.
"What Bill and Kim did for their son is why we are here today," said David Grimes, who is co-chairing the drive to build the field along with Jeff Matthews. "I never had the privilege of meeting Ben Patterson, but from what I have learned about him, he was an outstanding young man. I think he would be proud of what he helped build."
As city officials sat down with the design architects, all involved wanted to find ways to make Conway’s field unique.
"The bleachers are a very special area for parents and families," said Grimes. "This is where they can sit and watch their son or daughter simply play baseball. For an hour or so, they can watch the game and not think about how difficult it might have been to get to the game or what challenges they might face once they get home."
A plaque will be placed in the bleacher area, noting Ben and his life. There will also be a small memorial garden near the outfield, where the names of players who have passed away will be noted. In addition to Ben, the Braves have lost Matthew Kelly and Michael Cantrell. Names can continue to be added.
Braves Field will be built at Curtis Walker Park. The Conway Parks and Recreation Department will take over the administration of Braves Baseball once the field is complete.
Private funding is being raised to help get the project built this spring.
According to Grimes, fundraising is going well, but more help is still needed. More information can be found at the Facebook page "Braves Field Conway" or by calling 501-269-0412.