Naming rights for baseball field, tennis courts available at Hampton Park

Baseball backstop to be named in memory of fallen Oakland Police Officer John
Hege, a Piedmonter.

By Barry Eitel

The Recreation Department announced this month that it will memorialize the renovated
backstop at Hampton Park in honor of Oakland Police Officer John Hege, a Piedmont
native who was gunned down in the line of duty in 2009.
In conjunction with the Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO), the City
has been accepting donations for several other structures at Hampton Park, which has
been under construction for six months. If proper matches are made, naming rights are
available for everything ranging from a commemorative brick to the entire baseball field.
The park, which is technically named Piedmont Sports Park but is almost always
referred to as Hampton Field, will be officially christened Hampton Park when upgrades
are finished in the next two months. The naming rights for the entire park are not
Naming rights for the baseball/softball field, which doubles as a youth soccer field in the
fall, are available. Neither the City nor PRFO is putting an asking price on these rights,
although the price tag would likely be roughly half of the $1 million cost of renovating the
If someone buys the naming rights, the new name of the field would appear above the
park’s name on two handsome planters that will be placed at the park’s two main
entrances on both Hampton Road and La Salle Avenue. If no donor comes forward, the
planters will look fine without the extra placard.
“It was originally designed to have nothing on it,” Recreation Director Sara Lillevand
said of the planter design.
She went on to say that the naming rights scheme is “new territory” for the City, which
considers many factors beyond price when negotiating the rights.
“Trying to be thoughtful and careful about it, but it seems to be a unique opportunity for
it,” said Lillevand.
Resident Guy Saperstein purchased naming rights for the basketball court for $75,000 –
a nice match, claimed Lillevand, because he has played on the courts for many years
and lives nearby.
The rights for the tennis court and dugouts are still available. Smaller legacy gifts are
available, ranging from $250 for a commemorative brick to $50,000 for a special
location on the planters. Interested donors can see options at the PRFO website,
The funds go toward offsetting the City’s share of the cost of renovating Hampton Park.
The project is estimated to cost around $2 million once finished. When the contact for
construction was awarded back in April, private citizens and youth sports organizations
donated $300,000 right away, with more money pouring in during the months since.
Ideally, Lillevand would like to see this model of private-public partnership work for other
recreational projects.
“I’m thrilled about it because from where I sit, I see enormous need for our recreational
facilities,” she said. “I’m thrilled that PRFO was not just willing but excited to jump in at
The Recreation Department is looking at a slew of possible renovations, including
Coaches Field and Piedmont Community Pool.
“We’ve got big projects on the horizon,” said Lillevand.
Many of these projects are essentially impossible to fund unless the City levies taxes.
For example, a recently adopted Aquatics Master Plan that calls for completely
rebuilding the aging pools carries an estimated cost of $15 million.
For now, though, the City is very impressed with how well the private-public partnership
is working at Hampton Park. The backstop memorial for Hege, who was one of four
Oakland officers shot by one gunman after a traffic stop turned into a lengthy shoot-out,
is especially important for Lillevand, who noted how Hege spent hundreds of hours
umpiring baseball and softball games.
“John spent so much there – right there at home plate,” she said.
Both the Piedmont Police Officers Association and the Oakland Police Officers
Association have committed donations to the Hege memorial.
John’s was a life of service,” said former Recreation Director Mark Delventhal in a
statement. “His loss of life in the line of service was tragic for all who knew him. This is a
great way for him to be remembered for what he loved to do.”
Hampton Park is on schedule to be completed by the middle of January.