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Dickinson's ballpark gets a once-over before hosting Legion Regional tournament this summer

On Wednesday at the newly renamed Dakota Community Bank and Trust Ballpark, there was a lot of I-dotting and T-crossing. This summer is when the fun will really begin.

On Wednesday at the newly renamed Dakota Community Bank and Trust Ballpark, there was a lot of I-dotting and T-crossing. This summer is when the fun will really begin.

Members from the national offices for American Legion Baseball visited Dickinson this week for a tour of the ballpark and Astoria Field, the site of the 2017 and 2018 Central Plains Regional Tournament.

Brief conversations were had about logistical problems - where team buses will park, where the umpires' dressing room is located, internet access in the press box and where teams can do infield drills if games on the main field run long - but the main purpose of the day was to showcase the ballpark's latest improvements.

The tour was led by James Kramer, the director of Dickinson Parks and Recreation; Ryan Nelson, the recreation and facilities manager and the tournament chair of the Central Plains Regional Tournament; and Kyle Steffan and Jason Hopfauf, the president and vice president, respectively, of Dickinson Baseball Club.

It was a standard protocol visit in advance of the tournament, which will run Aug. 2-6 this summer, and the national representatives left feeling impressed.

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"Ryan and James and the baseball committee that works here to put this on, they are energized and they are excited to put this on," said Paul Iverson, the tournament director. "They want it, and they know what it can mean to this community and the teams that are coming in."

Dickinson is also the host of the 2018 tournament, as host sites are determined on a two-year basis.

"What Dickinson represents, and a lot of these other small communities like this, it's an opportunity to showcase your town and your community because you're bringing in national events like this," said Steve Cloud, the national program coordinator for American Legion Baseball. "When you have that opportunity to showboat a little bit about what you have to offer, and to see a small community like this spend that kind of money and effort to upgrade a facility that only gets used by us for two weeks in two years is pretty impressive, but also the community benefits greatly from it after we leave."

Iverson and Cloud, were shown around the ballpark and its many upgrades: new backed stadium seats with extra legroom as compared to the seats they replaced; picnic areas along the top row of the concourse; increased visibility thanks to a new cable system that holds the protective netting in place behind home plate.

"With our facility, it's a big initiative to do these things because you have people coming from outside our community," Nelson said. "We want to present a good appearance and a good atmosphere for them."

The tournament will welcome eight teams in all: the host Dickinson Roughriders, the champions from North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, and one extra team apiece from the latter two states.

"It's super exciting to know that we're automatically in the tournament. We have a great facility here, great fans, we have a great group of kids," Roughriders head coach Stephen Greenwood said. "I know our expectations, though, are the win the Legion state title to get the berth that way and come in as the state champion of North Dakota. Either way, I do expect us to compete very strongly in that tournament."

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