Community-Funded Baseball Stadium to Open in River Falls

Updated: 06/13/2014 1:31 PM
Created: 06/12/2014 4:19 PM
By: Brandi Powell

Private citizens, baseball fans and local businesses came together to build a new ball-park in River Falls, Wisconsin, which opens Friday.

It's a lighted, city-style stadium that will host up to 80 games each summer. It's a place amateur, legion and varsity high school baseball players will soon call home.

"I think people don't really expect to find this outside a larger city," said Scot Simpson, River Falls City Administrator.

It is a few years of dreaming come true.

"It's an exciting time for us, there's a lot of investment both in money and time," Simpson said.

"The thing about it with this town is that there are so many people that want to support baseball," said lead contractor, Brian Pechacek.

The final preps are underway, to get ready for opening game-night, at First National Bank of River Falls Field.

"A lot of people assume that there must have been some huge donor or it must have been something that taxpayers footed the bill for, and that's the opposite of the truth," said Josh Eidem, President of River Falls Baseball Council.

Eidem says all of this is worth $2.5 million, but they were able to make it for less than half of that, because of local businesses and volunteers."

"This ball park was built on the backs of a lot of volunteer labor," Eidem said.

"Everybody just kept saying, 'Yeah, I want in, I want to be part of this community profile,'" Pechacek said.

The city council gave the land, put down $100,000 to put in water, sewer and electricity and approved a $300,000 loan for the River Falls Baseball Council.

First National Bank gave $100,000 for the stadium.

And, the community raised $500,000 cash.

"Small town armature baseball, it's community events, it's like football on Friday nights, you just need a venue for people to go to, so we built this with families, with community in mind, because we have such beautiful nights here in Western Wisconsin and in Minnesota in the summer, that we just needed a reason for people to get together and enjoy them," Eidem said.

The River Falls Baseball Council still needs to raise $8,000.

The city is also investing in a community storm shelter to go up right next to the baseball field.

It's a $650,000 project, to be paid for with federal, state and city money. Construction is set to begin in August.

Photo: KSTP/ Brandi Powell

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