The City of Portsmouth and Shawnee State University have signed a two-year extension to provide financial support for Branch Rickey Park.
After signing a lease two years ago, the new extension will become effective over the summer. SSU has been responsible for the upkeep on the grounds. The city has maintained the structure of the park, including the lights, which were updated this year.
“The city has really stepped up and done a fantastic job of continuing to make improvements,” Shawnee State Athletic Director Jeff Hamilton said. “I think it gives everyone a since of comfort to know that the city is contributing money and different civic organizations are contributing money, and it’s going to be maintained and it’s going to be well taken care of.”
Aside from making the park as attractive as possible, Hamilton said SSU provides a since of security for citizens at the park.
“We provide a presence down there,” Hamilton said. “You know someone is going to be in and out of the park daily, keeping things locked up and keeping an eye on things. I think that’s important that people know there is going to be someone in and around that place daily.”
With the extension, annual events like the Gene Bennett Classic will continue to flourish.
“The better we take care of that park, the more opportunities we are going to have for Del Rice (League) and the Gene Bennett Classic to come in there,” Hamilton said. “We do a variety of different things in that facility and expand the different things we will be able to do in the region.”
Hamilton believes the extension is crucial for Scioto County.
“I think it’s huge,” Hamilton said. “The partnership between Shawnee State University and the city is vital. It’s going to draw some people to this area. I think the more things we can do in coordination with the city and Portsmouth Schools, and all of the local school districts, I think it just makes this region so much more attractive.
“It could be a nice educational corridor, especially in the Portsmouth area where Portsmouth High School is located in proximity to Shawnee State and the facilities down there around Branch.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.