Proposed River Falls ballpark gets a nameArea News
-- Welcome to First National Bank of River Falls Field at Hoffman Park.
By: Bob Burrows, Pierce County Herald
Welcome to First National Bank of River Falls Field at Hoffman Park.
Those are the words that will greet people before the first pitch at the new community ballpark when it is completed as soon as next summer.
The board of directors and ownership group of First National Bank of River Falls made sure of that last week when President and CEO Jeff Johnson announced the bank is committing $100,000 to the ballpark project for naming rights for the new field.
“We’re very excited about it,” Johnson said. “It’s always been very important for the board and the ownership group and the Smith family to give back to the community. We’re all excited about the potential impact we’ll be able to make, and this reaffirms our long term commitment to being in River Falls and the community.”
River Falls Baseball Council President Josh Eidem confirmed the new ballpark will be called First National Bank of River Falls Field at Hoffman Park.
“First National Bank of River Falls has a long-standing commitment to community service and is truly one of the pillars of River Falls,” Eidem said. “They have proved their commitment again with such a generous donation. We are again humbled by the support of our business community, and excited to have a long-term partner for the ballpark which shares many of the same goals for the River Falls community that the RFBC holds.”
Eidem said First National’s commitment brings the RFBC substantially closer to breaking ground on the project, increasing the amount raised to $257,000. The group hopes to raise $300,000 before ground can be broken and continues to seek partners to fund other aspects of the project, including dugouts, light poles, the donor's plaza, press box, and grandstand.
“We know there are groups and individuals in the community out there waiting to see if the project is truly a reality,” Eidem said. “Now, with First National Bank of River Falls, Nash Finch Company, General Beer Northwest, and Viking Coke standing with us, hopefully there is little doubt that we can build this great facility for our community. We're looking forward now for those who have been waiting to step out from the sidelines and join the effort over the next few weeks.”
The $100,000 commitment from First National Bank of River Falls comes on the heels of a $50,000 contribution from Nash Finch and Family Fresh Market to sponsor the ballpark’s new scoreboard. General Beer Northwest has also committed $50,000 for a Leinie Lodge pavilion and concession stand at the facility.
Johnson said he hopes the commitment from First National will spur other businesses to jump on board.
“What we’re hoping is, that by us being a major part of this we’ll see other local businesses who want to be a part of it,” he said.
According to Johnson, the bank’s decision to partner with the RFBC dates back to a philosophy embraced by former president David Smith and continuing with his family.
First National Bank of River Falls has a long history of philanthropy in River Falls, including helping to fund numerous civic projects such as the hospital and public library buildings, and giving to UW-River Falls Ramer Field renovation among others.
“We do what we can, and we emphasize to our employees to give time back to the community, whether it’s through coaching youth teams, volunteering, or working with service groups,” he said.
Johnson said he’s looking forward to bringing his children to the ballpark when it opens.
“I’ve always thought that was one of the things River Falls was missing -- a very nice ballpark. And I think it will be a destination point for people looking for some summer entertainment.”
The River Falls Baseball Council (RFBC) was formed in 2011 to officially bring together all the baseball organizations in River Falls who have been informally collaborating over the past decade, including the high school varsity and American Legion baseball programs, the River Falls Fighting Fish amateur team, and the River Falls Youth Baseball Organization.
In March, the RFBC and the city signed an agreement to lease 7.7 acres at Hoffman Park next to the Hwy. 65/35 bypass to develop and maintain a competition-quality baseball park. The lighted ballpark would host an estimated 70-80 games each summer and feature a covered grandstand with stadium-style seating, which would allow the venue to accommodate other local events, such as concerts or civic ceremonies.
According to Eidem, community members can help support the project by purchasing engraved paver bricks or seat nameplates. The engraved paver bricks will be installed in the ballpark’s donor’s plaza, near the entrance to the park between the grandstand and concession stand, while seat nameplates will be attached to each of the 250-300 stadium-style seats in the covered grandstand. Bricks and seat nameplates are available for $200 each, or $300 for both.
Paver bricks, seat sponsorships and advertising pledge forms can be found on the group’s website at www.riverfallsbaseball.org , or by contacting Eidem directly at 651-335-0030.
Other sponsorship opportunities at the ballpark, include the dugouts, press box, light poles and donor’s plaza. Interested individuals or companies should contact RFBC board member Curt Bruns, head of the ballpark's capital fundraising effort, at 715-426-4952 .
The RFBC is also seeking advertisers for the ballpark's outfield fence. Those interested in outfield signage should contact board member Dave Dintemann, RFBC head of marketing, at 651-233-8532.
The RFBC hopes to open the ballpark in July, 2013, with a game between the River Falls Fighting Fish amateur team and the American Legion Post 121 baseball team.