University City

Mallard Creek group pushes for stand at ballfield

Like an assembly line at a fast-food restaurant, concession stand workers at Mallard Creek High baseball games rapidly prepare meals for their patrons.

Preparing and serving hot and packaged food under a collapsible tent outside the chain link fence surrounding the Mavericks’ field, concession workers are forced to transport all their supplies from and to their homes before and after games. They don’t have a permanent structure.

Led by a student spirit group named Creek Chaos and supported by the Mallard Creek High Athletic Booster Club, fundraising efforts are in place to build a combo concession stand and press box.

Organizers say it will cost $20,000 to build. And they figure they have about half that much in the bank.

Creek Chaos and the booster club will continue to raise money, but they are asking University City businesses to become part of the effort. They hope to have the structure complete for next baseball season.

“We do a pretty good job here,” said Steve Chiuchiolo, a booster club member, as is his wife, Karen. “But when we don’t have a permanent building, it’s kind of hard to get volunteers to come out here and set up the tables, man the tables and store the food.

“If we had a nice building here, we would store the food here. All we would need is for some folks to show up, unlock the building, roll up the doors and start serving. It would be a great way to keep the revenue consistent.”

The construction of a concession stand and press box was not included in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ budget when the school was built in 2007.

Mallard Creek’s athletic director, Karen McKaig, said a concession stand and press box have always been on the school’s wish list. But the distance of the field from the school has been a deterrent.

The baseball field is on an access road formerly known as Binghom Road, about a half-mile from the entrance to the school’s outdoor athletic facilities off Johnston-Oehler Road. Because of a densely wooded area, the school is barely visible from the baseball field.

Because of its island-like location, the baseball field is not able to share a concession stand and press box with another playing field, such as a softball field. That has also impeded progress toward construction.

At the field, the “press box” consists of a public address system on a folding table with a couple of chairs behind it. Players and coaches prepare it before games and remove it afterward.

Junior outfielder Alex Chiuchiolo, Steve Chiuchiolo’s son, is one of those players who has had press box prep duty during the years. He is also the student leader of the Creek Chaos.

The group, which doubled in size to 200 students since last year , is a strong presence at most Mallard Creek sporting events. But members also raise money for school-related projects.

Alex, many of his teammates and other Creek Chaos members have helped raise money for the concession stand by selling car wash tickets, tickets to a special Kannapolis Intimidators minor league baseball game and by selling Creek Chaos T-shirts.

“It definitely helps that people in the neighborhood recognize us and know who we are and what school we are from,” said Alex. “They say ‘Hey, good season last year,’ and they know that we’re a good winning program. It helps that they know where the money is going to.” This year, the Mavericks won its second straight I-Meck 4A Conference championship. Last year, the team reached the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

If the money is raised, McKaig said, the next steps would be to get approval from school administration and from the school system’s central office.