LOCAL

Destin High baseball team may have a place to call home come spring at Morgan Sports Center

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

It looks as though the Destin High Sharks baseball team will have a place to call home this season.

After playing every game on the road last year, the Sharks may be able to use the Barracuda Field at Morgan Sports Center for the upcoming season.

After nearly a dozen people, including a student, parents and business owners, voiced opinions in favor of converting the field at Morgan for the baseball team, the Destin City Council voted 4-3 for staff to draw up an interlocal agreement.

After playing every game on the road last year, the Destin High Sharks baseball team may be able to use the Barracuda Field at Morgan Sports Center for the upcoming season.

Councilman Jim Bagby made the motion for staff to bring back an interlocal agreement with Destin Water Users and the high school to the second meeting in October with a few stipulations:

  • That the length of the contract does not exceed more than five years.
  • The rate of usage is no more than the non-profit rate. 
  • The high school pays for the conversion of the field. 
  • The school pays for conversion back to softball, if they no longer use it. 

The motion passed 4-3 with Councilmen Kevin Schmidt, Johnny King and Teresa Hebert voting no.

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Ready to move forward

The land that Morgan Sports Center sits on was provided to the city by Destin Water Users more than 20 years ago. In October 2000, Morgan opened four regulation softball fields, two youth baseball fields, three soccer fields and a children's playground.

Schmidt, King and Hebert voted no because they were ready to move forward Monday night instead of waiting for the interlocal agreement.

"Let's get it done. ... Let's quit dragging our feet. This is the right thing to do," Hebert said, noting they can "finetune" the paperwork later.

Earlier in the meeting, Schmidt had asked that the Barracuda Field be converted into a regulation high school baseball field by January 2023. Hebert seconded his motion.

"I've received more phone calls and emails about this topic than I have about anything the past two years," Schmidt said. "Because of that, I'd say it's important to our community."

The Destin City Council chambers were full Monday as residents voiced support for the Destin High baseball team to use the Barracuda Field at Morgan Sports Center for the upcoming season.

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The importance to the community could be seen Monday in the council's full chambers. Palmer Robbins, a freshman at Destin High, expressed a need for a high school baseball field. 

"As the kids get older, the fields need to get bigger," Robbins said. 

His dad, Justin Robbins, also spoke in favor of the conversion.

"It's about the kids," he said. "We need to come together and grow this town. ... It's just Destin. I think this partnership needs to continue to grow."

Conversion of the field

Daniel Frankfurt, who has three kids in the school system in Destin spoke in favor of the conversion of the field. 

"Baseball is a passion in this community, and to give up on that passion because they have now gotten too big ... doesn't seem to make since. We should support them as they grow and move forward," Frankfurt said, adding, "the high school is not asking you to pay for the conversion ... just to allow it."

Councilman Schmidt also noted the high school has already agreed to pay for renovations to the field, saying "We have the opportunity to do something, and we don't even have to pay for it."

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This topic has been discussed at two parks and recreation committee meetings, and the committee voted in favor.

"In my mind, this is an upgrade to one field, that can be used not only by the high school but the Little League and men's baseball," Schmidt said.  

Hebert said she, too, has heard from numerous people. 

"I'm proud that Destin has a high school and it's so full that they continue to build. I think we should help them thrive," Hebert said. 

City attorney Kyle Bauman encouraged the council to go the route of an interlocal agreement, as did City Manager Lance Johnson. 

"I think this is the quickest way to get this done … and a way to protect each other," Johnson said, with things written down. 

Mayor Gary Jarvis was in favor of moving forward with the transition of the field. 

"I'm a real proponent of this field being changed over. … Sometimes government gets in the way," Jarvis said.

"I think we need to get this done. Time is of the essence," Jarvis said, noting the speed of government can kill a project.

Bagby said he wants the school to use the field, "but let's do it right tonight."

Destin High Principal Christine Cruickshank was happy to see things move forward. 

"I am happy with the fact that Destin High School will be able to play our home baseball games at Morgans. I appreciate the members of the City Council realizing the importance of this for Destin High and working with us to get it done," Cruickshank said.