BRANSON Mo. - Replicas of classic Major League Baseball stadiums could one day become staples of Branson.
A development group has proposed plans to renovate the Red Roof Mall into a one-of-a-kind baseball complex.
"We feel like we're pretty close now to a good development," says Branson Economic Director Garrett Anderson. "That fits with the sports, and the youth sports market, that we've really been pursuing over the last several years."
Anderson says the proposal is still in the early stages, and will go before the planning and zoning commission for a permit that would allow outdoor activities at the Factory Merchants Mall, also known as the Red Roof Mall.
Anderson says if things go as planned, the redevelopment would offer kids and families from around the nation a one of kind baseball experience. He says Chicago based developer, Ballparks of America, also has a "jump start" with the proposal because the necessary infrastructure is already there.
"The baseball lines are only 60 feet instead of 90 feet," Anderson said while pointing to the early blueprints of the plan.
He says the developers proposal is to incorporate six youth fields, for 12 and 13-year-old kids, in the first phase with plans for 10 more fields in the future.
"While the players themselves, or the teams would be staying on the property," says Planning and Development Director Joel Hornickel, "This is a great opportunity for our existing businesses to take advantage of these families coming into town... staying at their lodging facilities or eating at their restaurants."
One of the ideas in the proposal is to turn some of the fields into miniature replicas of major league stadiums like Fenway Park, in Boston.
"Obviously, the Green Monster is very unique," says Hornickel, "Also Wrigley Field up in Chicago."
Branson officials like Hornickel and Anderson says one of the benefits of the Ballparks of America proposal is it would incorporate many of the already existing structures at the Red Roof Mall.
One idea is for future sporting and retail development, in addition to allowing teams to use the buildings for locker rooms and dorms.
Officials says the complex will reel in between 300 and 500 players each week, while allowing their families to explore the shopping and shows in Branson
"We feel like Branson has that appeal for the whole family to plan a weeks vacation," says Anderson.
If the permitting process is approved, the developers would then have to work out a leasing agreement with the city.
Garrett Anderson says the first pitch could be thrown out as soon as June 2015.