University City

Mallard Creek High baseball field gets new concession stand and press box

Standing 23 feet high, the new two-story concession stand and press box at Mallard Creek’s baseball field is almost as monumental as the yearlong efforts to have it constructed.

Spearheaded by a group of determined parents, players, coaches and other volunteers, the school dedicated the $80,000-plus structure before a Mavericks home game on April 11.

Organizers estimate $60,000-$65,000 of the building’s total cost was comprised of donated labor, supplies and equipment.

And that doesn’t include all of the gratuitous hot dogs and slushies that grass roots leader Steve Chiuchiolo promised to numerous volunteers and benefactors in exchange for their contributions.

“This is just an awesome moment for Mallard Creek,” said school athletic director Karen McKaig. “Since the school opened in 2007, this was on our dream list.

“The momentum of this group of athletes, coaches, and parents reaching out to their neighbors. … I don’t think we had many baseball dads that didn’t have a shovel in their hands.”

For six baseball seasons, the field’s concession stand and press box were composed of folding tables and tents temporarily set up before each home game. Mallard Creek High Booster Club parents manning concessions transported supplies and equipment between their homes and the field.

Chiuchiolo is the booster club treasurer and his son Alex is the president of Creek Chaos, the school’s student fan base. Both groups were instrumental in raising the $20,000 that stretched far enough to get the project completed.

Fundraising efforts began with the 2012-2013 school year. Creek Chaos sold car wash tickets, tickets to a special Kannapolis Intimidators minor league baseball game and Creek Chaos t-shirts.

The booster club raised money through selling concessions, T-shirts, sponsorship banners displayed at Mallard Creek athletic facilities, and special engraved cinder blocks displayed near the new building. Parents and coaches earned more money for the project by working the concession stands at varsity football games.

Chiuchiolo admits that the group’s projection that $20,000 would pay for the entire building was grossly short-sighted. But he and his associates were undaunted by the task at hand. Last summer, Chiuchiolo started rallying his extensive list of volunteers and contributors.

Al Burbeck, a semi-retired architect, agreed to design the building. Chris Herman, whose daughter Breanna plays for Mallard Creek’s softball team and whose seventh grade son Brenden may end up playing baseball for the Mavericks one day, donated his general contractor expertise to get inspections scheduled and permits approved.

Chiuchiolo solicited donations from numerous businesses and individuals. In some cases, Chiuchiolo convinced prospective sellers on Craigslist to donate their items.

There are too many donations to list, but they included cinder block, concrete, the use of a forklift and mini-excavator, windows, and even some used cabinets.

By the time construction started during winter break, Chiuchiolo was able to find a couple of masons who also donated their time. They led Mavericks coaches, players and their fathers in a crash course on block laying.

Through March, Chiuchiolo, a few other parents, and head coach Ryan Resendez and his staff committed countless hours to the project. On Saturdays, the group often worked from dawn to dusk, breaking only for lunches brought in by some of the players’ moms.

Chris Smith, whose son Zach is a senior Mavericks pitcher and first baseman, and Tim Mansfield, whose son Jarrett is a sophomore righfielder and pitcher, were Chiuchiolo’s right-hand and left-hand men. Both men gave up several weekend deer and turkey hunting excursions to help.

“We knew Steve (Chiuchiolo) from our days with the Mallard Creek Optimist Club,” said Mansfield. “We love baseball and this was something that needed to be done.”

Added McKaig: “This has been a great year for Mallard Creek and this is another one of the highlights.”