The Anoka-Ramsey Athletic Association and the city of Ramsey are working together on ball field improvement projects at Alpine Park.
Work has started and by the time it is completed, Alpine Park, 6600 Alpine Drive, will have dugouts and taller backstop fences at all four fields.
Mark Riverblood, parks and assistant public works superintendent, told the Ramsey City Council that he estimates the project will cost about $125,000. To date, the association has pledged $50,000. The council agreed that Ramsey would cover up to $75,000.
This is not the first time that the Anoka-Ramsey Athletic Association has given a large chunk of money to Ramsey for upgrading athletic facilities.
In 2015, it contributed $50,000 for dugouts and new fences at four fields in Central Park. In 2014, the donation was $40,000 to the building of the concession stand and meeting rooms building at Elmcrest Park.
“It’s become a good partnership between us and the city,” Reeder said.
The four fields already had backstop fences to stop some fly balls, but they were so short that many balls kept flying into the parking lot and sometimes at spectators at the other fields. Reeder said everyone had to have “their head on a swivel” and the front row of parking nearest the fields was often not used because people did not want baseballs smashing their windows and denting their cars.
“It’s been ‘park at your own risk’ at Alpine. I’ve seen multiple cars get hit,” he said.
Mayor Sarah Strommen can see that Alpine Park is packed for games. Riverblood added that upgrading facilities can attract more tournaments and Council Member Kristine Williams said tournaments are an important way to advertise the community.
“Having these great park facilities and the opportunity for our athletic association to bring, in some instances, thousands of families to a single tournament is only of benefit to our community,” Williams said.
The association does fundraisers every year. This past year, the approximately 700 baseball players in the Anoka-Ramsey Athletic Association raised the $50,000 through pizza sales, according to Reeder. He clarified that registration fees are not used for these facility upgrades. The membership dues cover the cost of uniforms, equipment and hiring the umpires, Reeder said.
“It’s all a credit to our members,” he said.