Waukesha baseball field could be renamed Jackson Sparks

WAUKESHA — Jackson Sparks, the 8-year-old boy from Mukwonago whose name has become synonymous with youth baseball since his tragic death in the Waukesha Christmas Parade, may have a renovated ball diamond named in his honor.

City of Waukesha officials are considering a proposal from three area residents and the Waukesha County Community Foundation to fund and improve one of four fields at the William R. Oliver Youth Sports Complex on Summit Avenue and Meadowbrook Road. When completed, the park would be renamed Sparks Complex at William R. Oliver Park.

Jackson and his older brother Tucker, 12, were both participants at the November 21 parade as part of the Waukesha Blazers baseball team when they were hit by an SUV that police say was being driven by Darrell Brooks Jr. of Milwaukee. jackson died two days after the incident, becoming the sixth death. Brooks is expected to go to trial in October on 83 counts related to the deaths and more than 60 other injuries.

As part of a park proposal first discussed publicly on April 18, the existing field, No. 4, of the sports complex on the northwest side of Waukesha would be heavily renovated.

It would include a Memorial Plaza entrance, an all synthetic turf pitch with concrete slab dugouts, fencing, audiovisual equipment, bleachers with an observation deck and LED pitch lighting. The complex itself would receive a new sign at the park’s main entrance, with the words “William R. Oliver Park” and “Sparks Complex” included.

The plan was presented by Matt Drvaric, a partner at Riverwaters Partners; Sean Cullen, director of business development for JP Cullen; Jeff Ohm, Account Manager for SRH Agency; and Melissa Baxter, president of the Waukesha County Community Foundation.

In a letter to park officials, they said the $1.3 million project would largely be covered by fundraising efforts involving local businesses, community leaders and the public. Any residual funds after construction could be used for operating costs managed by the City of Waukesha, which would be responsible for maintaining the grounds.

Essentially, the pitch itself would carry Jackson’s spirit by recalling his “love for the game of baseball,” they said.

“The spirit of the field will serve to create excitement for families, share memories and teach character in young baseball players through play while bringing the community together,” they said.

If all goes according to plan, the work would be complete by the spring of 2023. The city’s Board of Parks, Recreation and Forestry unanimously recommended the plan to Waukesha Common Council for approval.

Both Sparks boys were avid baseball players. But in the emotional wake, the focus of their participation in the national pastime has been amplified.

Jackson was honored posthumously, with children encouraged to wear baseball jerseys in his honor at his funeral and a Georgia baseball bat company custom bat manufacturing bearing his name and uniform number, 23.

Tucker, who is still recovering from a fractured skull, recently threw the first pitch in the Milwaukee Brewers home opener.

Contact Jim Riccioli at (262) 446-6635 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @jariccioli.

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