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Park board approves $600K ballpark renovations

The Dickinson Park Board approved a bid of more than $600,000 worth of improvements to the Southside Ballpark on Thursday. The project will replace the concrete at the top of the stands running under both overhang areas and will replace existing ...

The renovations include replacing all the seating at the ballpark with dark green individual seats and aluminum benches. By Ellie Potter/ The Dickinson Press
The renovations include replacing all the seating at the ballpark with dark green individual seats and aluminum benches. By Ellie Potter/ The Dickinson Press

The Dickinson Park Board approved a bid of more than $600,000 worth of improvements to the Southside Ballpark on Thursday.

The project will replace the concrete at the top of the stands running under both overhang areas and will replace existing seating, said James Kramer, the city's Parks and Recreation director. The concrete portion of the project is estimated to be completed by Nov. 18 with the seating to be done by the end of March. The construction will not impact the athletes' ability to play on the field itself.

"I look at this not so much as a project (but) as a maintenance issue," said Scott Kovash, president of the board. "I mean, it is our facility. We have to keep it up. ... We don't have another baseball field. It gets used by a lot of different entities. I think it's something that we have to do."

Any Dickinson baseball player over the age of 13 plays on that field, Kramer said.

The improved stadium will have 537 dark green, individual seats as well as aluminum bench seats holding 303 fans, Kramer said. Pre-construction meetings will begin this week with construction hopefully starting the first week of October.

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Kramer said the current individual seats were installed about 20 years ago and came from the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn., where the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings played before the Metrodome. He hopes to be able to salvage some of them to resell.

The last renovation to the stadium was four years ago when they replaced the turf, installed a new scoreboard and renovated the concession stand. The dugouts also need some improvements, but those will have to be dealt with at a later date, Kramer said.

The stadium was originally constructed in the early 1950s and renovated throughout the years. Now, he said, further renovations cannot be put off much longer.

"We've worked a long time on this," Kramer said. "It's actually been a couple years in the making. But ever since you start to see these structural cracks, we've been trying to get this accomplished and working out different ways-you know, whether it's ripping everything out and doing all concrete or the way that we ended up doing it-but it's taken a couple years to work through all the kinks and sort things out."

The park district and city have $260,000 for the project while the Dickinson Baseball Club is pitching in $40,000 and the Astoria Hotel, which owns the naming rights to the field, is throwing in $75,000.

The remaining nearly $260,000 for the project will be raised through a fundraising campaign, Kramer said. There is not yet a plan for this fundraiser.

Kramer said the process is being expedited because Dickinson hosts the American Legion baseball's Great Plains Regional Tournament at the ballpark in both 2017 and 2018.

He said he will be happy not to have to worry about the deteriorating infrastructure anymore.

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"It just has that nostalgic, old-time baseball feel to it," he said. "So we're excited to be able to finally finish the final project to kind of take it into the future."

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