By Kirk Johannesen, The Republic

johannesen@therepublic.com

    Columbus North High School's baseball team would use two of the four baseball fields planned as part of a downtown outdoor sports complex.
 
   A later phase of the plan calls for the construction of a 2,000-seat baseball stadium, which would allow the city to host larger events.
 
   Construction of the outdoor sports complex south of City Hall by Lafayette Avenue and Water Street, could begin in the fall, said Ed Curtin, executive director of Columbus Redevelopment Commission. 

   However, the project is tied to the construction of three water ski lakes near downtown, north of Jonathan Moore Pike. Dirt removed to create the lakes would be used to build the baseball field above flood level. 

   Master plans must be created for both projects, Curtin said, and permits still have to be secured. The goal, though, is to have the fields playable within two years. 

   The original plans for the outdoor sports complex include dual purpose baseball/softball fields and turf fields for soccer, football, rugby and lacrosse. 

   The plan for turf fields for soccer, football, rugby and lacrosse have been postponed, Curtin said, because of questions of how they fit into the project. Also, baseball fields are a greater need. 

   "Certainly, there is a lack of baseball fields here," Curtin said. 

   Renovation of North High School cost the baseball team its game and practice fields because of the need for additional parking space, said Bill Jensen, BCSC's director of secondary education. 

   This spring, North will play its home games on a renovated field at Clifty Park, and Jensen said it's possible North also will have to play its home games there in 2011. 

   When the downtown fields are completed, North would use two - one for varsity games and one for junior varsity and freshmen games, and practices, Jensen said. 

   Curtin said it's uncertain whether any of the fields would be built for use by baseball and softball teams, because of feasibility issues.
 
   After the four baseball fields are built, focus then could turn to building a 2,000-seat baseball stadium approximately where the current wastewater treatment plant is located. 

   The stadium could help the city attract bigger events, Curtin said, and an amateur baseball team comprised of college players using the stadium for its home games is a possibility.
  
    "We'd love to attract people to downtown Columbus, Curtin said. The proposed stadium would allow Columbus to possibly host sectional, regional and semistate high school tournaments, Jensen said.
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