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China Spring ballfields to get $250,000 upgrade with Pilgrim's grant

China Spring ballfields to get $250,000 upgrade with Pilgrim's grant


A small youth sports organization in China Spring is taking a big step forward with $250,000 in funding from Pilgrim’s.

The poultry giant, which employs more than 500 in Waco, on Thursday announced the funding for improvements at the China Spring Youth Athletic Association’s ballfields at 1847 Jackson Lane. The company plans to allocate $10,000 to another local community organization by year's end.

The ballfields near Wortham Bend Road will get new synthetic turf infields, remodeled concessions stands and bathrooms that will be double the size of the current ones, association President Tommy Sutton said.


Tommy Sutton, president of the China Spring Youth Athletic Association, walks around the ballpark, which is up for $260,000 in improvements.

Sutton said the improvements will help the rural ballfields compete for state and regional tournaments.

“It’s still unbelievable,” he said. “It’s like a dream.”

This is by far the largest contribution the organization has received since building the ballfields on donated land 40 years ago.

“We are humbled to have the opportunity to support youth and families in our hometown,” Pilgrim’s Waco operations manager Kyle Martin said in a press release. “Through the Hometown Strong initiative and in collaboration with CSYAA, we believe this investment will help build a stronger future and make a difference for our community.”

Sutton said supporters of the organization worked at Pilgrim’s and knew about the opportunity to apply for the corporate program. He said the donation will make “a tremendous impact” on the community.

The ballfields are in an unincorporated part of the China Spring community, a fast-growing area that largely lies in the city of Waco. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people live in the area.


Tommy Sutton, president of the China Spring Youth Athletic Association, discusses improvements to the ballfields.

The city of Waco has announced plans to spend $550,000 in this budget year buying land for a new park in China Spring. Parks officials hope to spend $1.1 million the following year to develop the park.

Waco Parks and Recreation Director Jonathan Cook said he had not heard of the Pilgrim’s grant, and the ballfield project is not connected with the new park. But he said the projects will complement each other.

“Any time we can have partners like the youth association create amenities like this, it’s for the good of the community,” Cook said. “That’s what it takes to have a thriving recreational program.”

Cook and Sutton both said they hope to work together on expanding recreational opportunities in China Spring.

This story has been revised to clarify that $10,000 of Pilgrim's local contribution of $260,000 will go to another organization.

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Managing editor

J.B. Smith is the the Tribune-Herald managing editor. A native of Sulphur Springs, he attended Southwestern University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1997. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Waco and have two children.

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