In a year in which nothing was normal, Shakopee Youth Baseball, in partnership with the Minnesota Twins Community Fund, teamed up among the uncertainty to add some new life to Westminster Park off Valley View Road.
A $10,000 grant from the Twins helped SYBA construct new dugouts on two baseball fields at the park. Scoreboards were also added. The finishing touches with electricity is the final step in the process.
“The Twins were great. They were very easy to work with. Even with COVID, Major League Baseball on hold last spring, they said we’re still going through with all of the community grant projects,” said Allen Larson, SYBA treasurer.
The two fields are used primarily for 9-, 10 and 11-year-old travel baseball with teams from surrounding communities coming to play Shakopee teams regularly from May to the end of July.
“When we started there was just benches there, no dugouts. (SYBA) has been updating fields for years, first starting with the 15- and 16-year-olds and working our way down. We’re trying to have dugouts, scoreboards and batting cages and each park. I look at Riverview and that is such a nice field. A great place for our kids to play,” Larson said.
Local residents Ron Lambrecht and Jim Pass led the construction. Former Shakopee High School softball coach Neil Johnson, who sits on the Minnesota Twins Community Fund committee, was a huge asset for SYBA in answering questions about what the Twins were looking for in the application.
“If you go back to how we had the money for our share of the project, every year we host a nine through 12-year-old tournament. Every family from those age groups volunteer their time to work that tournament. It is our primary fundraiser. We save the money we make and put that money back into the baseball fields. So, really, everyone had a hand in making this project happen,” Larson said.
SYBA was able to host a modified schedule this summer, starting with practices and getting in some games. While registration numbers were lower than hoped for, Larson said everyone had a “pretty good experience.”
As far as a dedication ceremony, SYBA is looking to Spring 2021 . Families have been communicated updates this summer. Flipping the switch on the scoreboards will be the last step.
“We hope next spring/summer we’ll be back to normal, those fields being used most nights. We’re really proud of how the dugouts and scoreboards turned out,” Larson said.