Editorial: Faster than a speeding bulletIn a July 21 editorial, “Time to find the Fish a home,” the Journal declared it’s time to get behind the amateur Fighting Fish baseball team and find a better home field for that local team to play.
In a July 21 editorial, “Time to find the Fish a home,” the Journal declared it’s time to get behind the amateur Fighting Fish baseball team and find a better home field for that local team to play.
Little did we imagine the speed at which the bases would be circled to turn an idea into a home run reality.
Credit the city staff’s collaboration on a feasibility study with River Falls Baseball Council (RFBC). Both settled on a site, then crafted a deal for baseball games at all age levels to be played there.
Last week the City Council connected with a big hit by throwing its support behind the deal that calls for developing a baseball park on seven acres in the so-called Hoffman Park East.
Nonprofit RFBC represents local baseball at various levels — Fighting Fish, American Legion and youth baseball teams. Amazingly, both the Fighting Fish and American Legion baseball teams capped off their 2011 seasons by winning state championships.
This isn’t the first time the city’s made deals involving public land with local nonprofit groups committed to civic-minded projects.
Think of the soon-to-be built EcoVillage with St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity on the west side; the long-term lease with River Falls Youth Soccer to upgrade and play on the Golf View soccer fields; and Grow to Share’s community garden, also on Hoffman Park East acreage, where produce is delivered to area food pantries and domestic abuse shelters.
Even before a major fundraising drive, RFBC says it has lined up pledges covering well over half the $1.3 million for developing a new city ballpark that would:
n Be home for an expected 70-80 baseball games each spring and summer for the Fighting Fish and American Legion, along with varsity high school baseball and local youth baseball tournament and championship games.
n Have eight light poles to illuminate night games; 76 parking stalls; dugouts; grandstand with canopy; press box; scoreboard; outfield fence; concessions; toilets; storage; landscaping; and irrigation.
RFBC has also said it will manage and maintain the new ballpark.
While the River Falls High School field is decent for playing baseball, it’s not the most fan-friendly setting. There are no lights; no bathrooms (portables are some distance away); no shelter from the hot sun during day games; and the field is a long, hilly hike from the parking lot, making it a challenge for some to reach.
The Hoffman Park location for a new ballpark is easily reached — from the Hwy. 65 bypass, from East Division Street or sidewalks leading right to Hoffman.
The bluffs and nearby wooded Mound, plus Hoffman Park’s maturing trees all lend a natural beauty surrounding the proposed ballpark.
Games for the various teams that will play at Hoffman Park East would be free, making them ideal family entertainment all summer long. Crowds attending games, especially from out of town, will boost business at local stores, restaurants, bars, shops and gas stations.
Hey, it doesn’t get more community oriented than this proposal. Call it a shot in the arm for the great American pastime to be enjoyed right here in River Falls.