A citizens committee last week launched a fundraising effort it hopes will bring in an additional $1 million for a new grandstand at Tink Larson Field.
That includes a new website to better explain plans to replace the beloved landmark and allow potential donors to give more easily, said Duane Rathmann.
Combined with insurance dollars and some matching funds from the city, the proposed grandstand will include most all amenities found in the 1938 structure lost in an April 6 fire, and be handicap accessible. But to make that happen, the committee needs donations, says Rathmann, who’s long been the public address announcer for the Waseca Bluejays, Braves and Legion teams.
“Tink Larson Field isn’t your average baseball field,” said Rathmann.
The field, built in the ‘30s, was one of about 40,000 new projects completed by the Works Progress Administration, part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Another 85,000 buildings were improved by WPA workers. The effort, which ran from 1935-43, employed a 8.5 million unemployed people.
When the wooden grandstand was being considered for demolition in 1971, Larson, a former Waseca High School baseball coach, rallied the community and convinced the city to save and improve the structure. The field was later named in his honor.
City leaders have discussed potential replacements for the grandstand since shortly after the suspected arson, but costs so far have been far higher than the $800,000 in insurance money. The City Council, which had considered the more costly structures, last month asked architects to design a grandstand expected to cost only as much as the city receives from its insurer. The design, though, would allow for enhancements based on funds the committee raises.
Rathmann says a $1.8 million project would include seating for 200, a press box, rest rooms and a concession stand. There won’t be as much storage as the previous grandstand had and locker rooms will only be partially complete. Rathmann said the locker rooms could be finished later if additional funds are raised.
So far, almost $20,000 has been raised.
Time is short, Tink Larson wrote in Dec. 23 a email. The committee has until March 1 to fundraise. That’s when they’ll update the council and based on available dollars, it will consider how to move forward.
Rathmann says the committee’s also been working with a number of potential corporate donors, including the Minnesota Twins and Cemstone, to help boost the fundraising effort. Their interest demonstrates Waseca’s reputation around the state as a baseball town.
Not only was the former grandstand far grander than most any other park in the state, Rathmann notes that it hosted five different teams and leagues, and brought in fans and teams from across the region.
“There are Saturdays where there’s three games a day,” he said. “It’s a centerpiece for Minnesota baseball and Waseca for sure.”