Ballpark groundbreaking set for May 1; Baseball Bash this weekend
Less than a year-and-a-half after the River Falls Baseball Council kicked off its fundraising effort for a new ballpark, groundbreaking for First National Bank of River Falls Field will take place Wednesday, May 1, at Hoffman Park.
The groundbreaking will be in conjunction with the River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau "After Hours" event, hosted by the non-profit RFBC, at the future site of the new ballpark on the east end of Hoffman Park. The free event will be from 4:30-6 p.m., food and beverages will be available, and the public is invited.
But first, the RFBC will host its second annual Baseball Bash this Saturday, April 27, from 5-9 p.m. at Kilkarney Hills Golf Club.
The event will begin with a social hour from 5-6 p.m., followed by games, raffles, silent auctions, food and a brief program saluting baseball players of all ages in River Falls from 6-9 p.m. Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan will be the special guest and host a question-and-answer session as part of the festivities.
Silent auction and raffle prizes include a Joe Mauer autographed jersey, signed memorabilia from current and former major league baseball players Dave Winfield, Tony Oliva, Josh Willingham, Darin Mastroiani, and more, a $450 Calloway gift card and an autographed guitar from country music star Craig Morgan.
Former University of Wisconsin football star and current NFL player J.J. Watt, who spent one summer playing in the River Falls Youth Baseball Association as a kid, has also donated an autographed Houston Texans jersey.
A wine raffle, Silpada jewelry and other items donated by local area businesses will also be available to win or bid on.
Video messages to the River Falls baseball community from current and former Major League players will also be shown, and a virtual tour, as well as blueprints and designs, for the new ballpark will be on display.
The lighted, stadium-style ballpark with covered grandstand will serve as a home to the River Falls Fighting Fish amateur baseball team, the River Falls American Legion team, select River Falls High School varsity games, and "showcase" River Falls Youth Baseball events. Stadium-style seating could also accommodate other local events, such as concerts or civic ceremonies. The projected opening date is June, 2014.
Information about opportunities to support the project will be available at the Baseball Bash, including sponsoring light poles, home and visitors' dugouts, the press box, the donor's plaza, two picnic sections on the upper-level grandstand and outfield fence advertising.
Individuals can also buy four-inch by eight-inch paver bricks or a seat nameplate for $200 each, or one of each for a combo price of $300.
Tickets for the Baseball Bash are $5 in advance or $7 at the door. Kids age 12 and under, and all River Falls baseball players wearing their team jerseys, will be admitted for free. Advanced tickets are available at First National Bank of River Falls, from any RFBC board member, or online at www.riverfallsbaseball.org.