Little League International has postponed the opening of its Central Region headquarters in Whitestown by one year, citing construction delays.
Originally scheduled to open this summer, the planned 20-acre headquarters at 7060 S. Indianapolis Road, is now expected to open in June 2021.
Little League International spokesperson Kevin Fountain said in a written statement that the construction delays were not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he did not provide further explanation.
“While the original planned opening of the Central Region Headquarters was set for summer 2020, delays in the start of the construction process over the past year pushed back that initial date,” Fountain said. “We continue to remain hopeful to have the fields ready for play for the 2021 tournament.”
Williamsport, Pennsylvania-based Little League International has been without a permanent home for its Central Region headquarters since 2016, when it closed it previous facilities near East 42nd Street and Mitthoeffer Road in Indianapolis. It sold the 35-acre site to Cathedral High School.
The regional office oversees a 13-state district that includes operations for 26,000 youth baseball and softball teams and about 375,000 players. It also hosts the regional championship tournament in August that draws thousands of visitors and is typically broadcast on ESPN.
About 70 communities throughout the region made bids to become the home of the new headquarters, and Zionsville was chosen in late 2017. But Zionsville residents opposed a high-density residential project associated with the project. Little League resumed its search and announced in August 2018 that it had found a new home in Whitestown.
In addition to the two ball diamonds, the headquarters complex will include a 10,000-square-foot broadcast facility and office space for the regional director and staff.
The new complex had been scheduled to host the Little League Softball Central Region Tournament and the 2020 Little League Baseball Great Lakes and Midwest Region Tournaments.
Now, the hundreds of baseball and softball players expected to participate in those tournaments and the 20,000 to 25,000 expected spectators will be redirected to Grand Park in Westfield, which has been hosting the tournaments since the old facilities closed.
Fountain said this year’s Little League tournament schedule has not been delayed yet by the pandemic.
“It is our hope that local Little League regular seasons can continue after May 11, and we are working through all possible scenarios for the 2020 Little League International Tournament and tournament eligibility for our leagues and players in our various divisions of play,” Fountain said.
Little League International estimated 20,000 to 40,000 visitors would come to the Whitestown facilities each year. The delay could mean a loss of $1 million to $1.5 million that would’ve otherwise been spent on lodging, food and other travel-related expenses.
“We will continue to work with the community and assess our construction timeline based on the potential impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” Fountain said.