A series of setbacks, including the economic downturn and the exclusion of softball from the Olympics, stalled the project.
Fundraising is now under way, and federation Honorary President
Porter thinks the dream is finally coming true. He hopes to open the doors in mid-2015.
"We think the timing is right," said Porter, who was federation president for 26 years until his 2013 retirement.
Porter said he doesn't intend to ask for government backing, instead relying on money from foundations with an interest in the sport.
The project will get a major boost if the
The federation moved its operation to the 75-acre stadium complex for a token
The federation estimates 9,500 players, coaches and others from 130 countries have visited the complex for tournaments and other events since it took over in 2000. The museum, along with the academy, would dramatically increase the facility's use, Porter said.
Most of the former clubhouse space would be remodeled into a museum of softball memorabilia and a hall of fame. The federation has a vast collection of historic items, from a softball that was carried into space by
"I liked what I have seen so far. It looked like a great addition to the
The mayor said he'd like to see a return to the days when crowds thronged to the stadium complex. The stadium and the adjacent complex were converted to softball after the
The federation is making its move as the city is paying off the last of its debt on the stadium; the final
Softball is the only international sports federation headquartered in
Softball traces its roots to the late 1800s when the first game was held indoors at a boat house in
The sport is now one of the most popular in the world, played by millions around the globe. As part of its mission, the federation helps fledgling teams in foreign lands with gifts of softballs, athletic shoes and uniforms.
It's only fitting that a sport with such a following would have its own museum, Porter said. He said besides tourists who trek to
"We want this to be the place where people come from all around the world to learn about softball and play softball," Porter said. "We think this would be a tourist draw like none other."
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