RF baseball council pitches agreement for 'field of dreams'Area News
-- The River Falls Baseball Council started the official run toward a Community Ballpark in 2011 after making a deal with the city to draft a lease agreement for use of 7.7 acres in Hoffman Park East to develop and maintain a competition-quality baseball park.
By: Debbie Griffin, Pierce County Herald
The River Falls Baseball Council started the official run toward a Community Ballpark in 2011 after making a deal with the city to draft a lease agreement for use of 7.7 acres in Hoffman Park East to develop and maintain a competition-quality baseball park.
RFBC presents the drafted agreement to the City Council at its March 27 meeting, according to a reminder given by City Administrator Scot Simpson at the last Council meeting. Approving the agreement paves the way for construction of the park, as well as other progress such as fundraising and promotion.
The lease agreement contains many legal and technical stipulations but summarizes the key points of responsibility:
--RFBC will pay $1 per year to lease the land from the city
--RFBC will be allowed five years to start construction
--Lease agreement would be for a term of 20 years, with renewal anticipated
--Sale and consumption of ‘fermented beverages’ will be allowed if in full legal compliance
--RFBC and the city will meet annually to schedule games, events, and programs
--City shall provide the same general park maintenance around the exterior of the ballpark as it does in other public parks -- mowing, weed whipping, and trash removal; RFBC will be responsible for all other upkeep including watering, turf care, stripe painting, and field marking.
--RFBC and the City will control concession sales for their respective events
--RFBC may install sponsored advertising signs upon city review and approval
--RFBC shall be bonded and insured.
The agreement includes points of discussion between the two parties, such as how they’ll handle requests from third-party groups for use of the field, development of utility infrastructure, and the possibility of 100-foot light poles at the ballpark.
The baseball group is also looking into using realistic-but-artificial FieldTurf on the infield, giving it durability for other uses, as well as saving water, reducing emissions with no mowing and eliminating the need for chemical treatments.
RFBC estimates that the facility would host approximately 80 games each year.
Since getting clearance last fall to draft the agreement, RFBC has facilitated survey work, as well as schematic drawings contributed by the local firm, Frisbie Architects. Some preliminary engineering by Louie Filkens with Ogden Engineering has been done, and local artist David Markson produced a visionary rendering of how the ballpark might look when it’s completed.
The Council has been laying the groundwork for a comprehensive fundraising campaign to begin if and when the city approves the lease and maintenance agreement.
The total, overall cost of the ballpark project is estimated at about $1.1 million, including the cost of the land, which was last appraised in 2008 when the value was $340,000. This grand total does not yet take into account any cash or in-kind donations or revenues from sponsorship and advertising.
The ballpark project is expected to increase the land value significantly plus provide an amenity that offers widespread benefit. The state-champion teams of the Fighting Fish and American Legion would use the field, as well as the high school’s varsity team and the River Falls Youth Baseball organization.
The ballpark’s stadium-style seating would enable it to be a venue for other local events such as concerts and civic ceremonies.
The legal language of the resolution calls the agreement a partnership and says, “whereas the parties believe that the baseball field improvement proposed to be made by RFBC to the lease holder will be beneficial to the health and welfare of the general public and the City and area baseball players for many years to come and permits the enlargement and improvement of RFBC’s local baseball program, a benefit to the general public.”
Many in the community have expressed support for what they see as a low-cost entertainment option, a venue to draw out-of-town visitors, an opportunity for local businesses to advertise, and another community gathering place.
Much information may be found at the RFBC’s web site: www.riverfallsbaseball.org .
Debbie Griffin is a reporter for the River Falls Journal.