Castle Field — the bright, new baseball park near Anoka High School — is in the home stretch of its two-phase development, and to celebrate, a team of Anoka Bucs and other Metro Minny League players will face the St. Paul Saints on Saturday.
Proceeds will be used to complete the concession and restroom areas — the last leg of the two-year project, which produced a successor to the old Castle Field near downtown Anoka.
“The field’s in great shape,” said David Steinbring, a member of the Castle Field Association (CFA) and the Anoka Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. “[We’re] excited to showcase what the ballpark can look like … [and] get people used to having great events at the field.”
The new Castle Field opened to limited use in July 2013 and should be officially open by the time this year’s baseball season gets into full swing, he said.
Saturday’s game is one of a number of events planned for this spring and summer, including the Section 7AAA tournament of the state high school baseball playoffs, Steinbring said.
“The field provided us with a lot of great opportunities,” said Gwen Poore, Anoka High School’s athletic director.
The high school boys’ team, the Tornados, is playing its home games at Castle Field.
“[It] feels like a minor league stadium,” Poore said. “[It is] going to be a great draw for the community.”
From the start, community cooperation made the project possible, officials said.
Anoka High School donated the land to the city for the stadium. In turn, the boys’ baseball team is using the field for its games and practices.
“The city has been extremely helpful,” Poore said. “[They gave us] first priority for scheduling games.”
The city is paying for the project as it goes forward, but the CFA, a team of community representatives, is raising funds to pay back the city. The association also will be responsible for helping to maintain the stadium, Steinbring said.
“Compared to other high schools, it has the potential to be a higher-quality field,” said Tom Redmann, supervisor of sites and grounds for the Anoka-Hennepin School District and a member of the CFA. But that means everyone has to pitch in with park upkeep. “We are trying to get the users to take ownership,” he said.
Castle Field history
The original Castle Field opened in 1950 as Greenhaven Field and was located at Greenhaven Road and Hwy. 10.
Three years later, it was renamed for Willard Castle, a World War II veteran and decorated athlete who suffered a fatal injury while working on a power line for Anoka’s electrical department.
The field, which witnessed more than 60 years of baseball tradition, served as the home for the high school team, the American Legion team and the Bucs, said Lisa LaCasse, the city’s recreation supervisor. It bowed out with a final two games on July 14, 2012, and the land was sold to HealthPartners for its RiverWay Clinics. Money from the sale was used to help fund the new ballpark.
It will have a dedication plaque on its main gate and a plaza area where the Castle memorial from the original stadium will be displayed, LaCasse said. “We wanted to make sure to honor the Legion and the Castle family name by building a better field than we had before,” she said.
Sarah Barchus is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.