By Tamas Mondovics

Hillsborough County government representatives and members of the County Parks and Recreation Department and the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center (BSAC) joined by residents from Riverview, Gibsonton, Brandon and Palm River celebrated the addition to the recreational opportunities in the county with the revitalization of three baseball fields.

Named after former County Commissioner Rubin Padgett, the renovated facility is now officially called The Rubin Padgett Sports Complex, located at 725 S. 58th St. in the Palm River community of south Hillsborough County.

Over the years, the park has served as home to several little league baseball teams. The ceremony was the culmination of months of work on the three baseball fields that were re-graded for better drainage which also received new sod, lighting and chain link fencing.

New chain link dugouts for added visibility and safety were also installed along with new score tables and batting cages. Increased parking, renovated restrooms and shelter along with ADA compliant sidewalks and covered bleachers were also added.

On hand for the celebration was District 3 County Commissioner Les Miller, who spearheaded the project, and was joined by complex namesake, Padgett, 84, the first African-American elected to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, and the first African-American Commission Chair. 

Miller spoke about the history of the park, its neglect and much-needed renovation as an important part of the community, which in itself has gone through many changes over the past few years along with the growth within the surrounding communities including Riverview and south Brandon.

“The park and the fields were in bad shape,” Miller said, adding that something had to be done, while calling the newly renovated facility a “community jewel.”

To make the opening festivities official, Padgett was pleased to throwout the first ceremonial pitch, which started the baseball game between the Powerhouse Elite Red and the East Bay Warriors.

The facility is promising to take baseball to the next level by hosting travel ball leagues, baseball camps and clinics, all thanks to the County’s partnership with the Brandon Sports and Aquatics Center, which will be responsible for the programming at the complex. Tournaments and special needs sports activities, along with softball and kickball, will also be played on the new fields.

The renovations were done at a cost of $655,000 provided by the Hillsborough County Commission. Visit www.Hills boroughCounty.org or www.myBSAC.org.