ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The women behind “A League of Their Own” will soon get a place of their own, with the original home of the Rockford Peaches all-female baseball team to become a world-class museum.
A vote on the exact location for the museum was laid over in Rockford’s Zoning Board of Appeals after dozens of people spoke out who want to preserve some of the historic athletic fields on the property of Beyer Stadium, at 245 15th Ave.
The International Women’s Baseball Center would be the first and only kind of museum in the world dedicated to women’s professional baseball, and city leaders say it would be a $10M investment in southeast Rockford.
“We’ve missed out on far too many opportunities as a city,” said Mayor Tom McNamara. “This is an opportunity that we are not going to miss out on.”
Rosemary Collins sits on the board of directors, and says the Peaches’ museum will bring benefits to kids, saying, “It will help keep them off the streets. It will help give them something productive to do, and we hope it will help give them a purpose in life, that they may not have known was available before.”
Collins also said the city will reap financial benefits from the center.
“It will be a huge boost to the community that it’s in, because it will be that economic development push that will help bring other economic development into that area,” she said.
Despite pushback from residents, who would prefer the museum be built across the street from Beyer Stadium, instead of its proposed location on the grounds, which would obscure athletic fields, IWBC director Kat Williams says the enterprise is committed to Rockford.
“Beyer Field will still be there. People will still play ball on it. And, in fact, the hope is that we have a lot more people playing ball on it,” she said.
McNamara stands behind the museum proposal, saying, “We will do everything we can to make sure not only does this go as smoothly as possible through this process, but that we are incredibly successful in getting that $10 million.”
A capital fundraiser will be held on November 1st.