Softball players in the Andover Athletic Association were able to escape some of the intense heat this past summer thanks to the efforts and generosity of many people.
The two dugouts at all six fields at Sunshine Park in Andover received new dugout covers before this season started, according to Pat Wilson, the Andover Athletic Association girls’ slowpitch director.
The dugouts are not just covered by tarps. This is what they used to sit under. These are steel poles holding up a shingled roof.
“When it was all done I was really happy with it,” said Wilson, who oversaw the project.
The association usually hosts two in-house tournaments a year and two invitational tournaments that draw teams from all over the metro. Wilson said there were many compliments from coaches who came to the invitational tournaments and many asked how the association got these built.
According to Wilson, he brought up this idea during a meeting of the association’s board of directors. From there, the association settled on a design, secured donations, got the approval from the city of Andover, pulled the necessary building permit and got volunteers to install the 12 dugout covers.
The retail price for this project was $60,000, but approximately $27,000 was donated and the association covered the rest, Wilson said.
The biggest savings came from Landmark Concrete of East Bethel donating the material and labor costs of the four-foot concrete footings, he said.
Another metro area company, Sela Roofing, donated all the shingles, according to Wilson.
Michael Campbell, one of the coaches, hosted a 14-hour marathon sing-along at Beef O’Brady’s in Andover. During this event, people made donations. Ideal Advertising of Ham Lake also made a donation.
Volunteers offered their free time on the weekends to construct the structures over a two-month period, Wilson said.
About 75 people volunteered their time at different points during the project, he said.
The dugout covers were in place by the beginning of the season. Wilson said they saw the advantage of the covers right away during an in-house tournament in July. The shade from the covers probably made it feel 10 to 15 degrees cooler for the players, Wilson said.
This is the second major project that the association has paid for in the last few years at Sunshine Park, according to Wilson. A couple of years ago, a new scoreboard was added.
Wilson said there are a couple other projects on his future wish list at Sunshine Park. Having equipment hangers inside the dugout covers would be useful. A covered pavilion closer to the ball fields is of interest to him as well.
Eric Hagen is at