Contributions connected to the big league baseball game allow for an upgrade at Lee Park.
The 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game is having some positive side effects around the metro area. In Robbinsdale, Lee Park is reaping some benefits.
The Minnesota Twins, the Pohlad Family Foundation, the Twins Community fund and MLB Charities are contributing more than $8 million to local organizations and community projects as part of the July festivities surrounding the game, the Star Tribune has reported — the most money committed by a baseball team in the history of the All-Star Game, according to MLB Charities.
The money is providing renovations and upgrades to a small, outdated field in Lee Park that the city of Robbinsdale could not afford on its own, City Manager Marcia Glick said. The park is at Lee and 37th avenues N.
The renovations, which began in early May, include reorienting the field, installation of new synthetic turf, a new scoreboard, a fully fenced-in field, foul poles and new dugouts, said Glick.
The Twins and MLB will contribute $300,000 to the project, Glick said. Beyond that, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation will donate $50,000 and Robbinsdale will contribute $270,000. The project will also receive a $325,000 Hennepin County Youth Sports grant and a $10,000 Twins Fields for Kids grant, Glick said.
The total cost of the project is $946,000, Glick said. Any extra money will go straight to the new field, Mayor Regan Murphy said.
The city could not possibly have financed a field of synthetic turf on its own, city officials say, but it is something residents will eagerly use.
“The most important thing is that the youth in the community will have a playing field to use early in the spring and other times when other fields aren’t available,” Glick said. “Robbinsdale is a big baseball town.”
Not all fields are ready for use in early spring because the ground is still soggy, Murphy said. This field will not have that problem.
The renovations also will expand the use of the field, Murphy said, which so far has been used for baseball leagues for children ages 5 to 10. With the addition of fences and other amenities like a mobile mound and bases, youth up to the age of 13 can use the field, he said.
The upgraded field also will allow the city to host more games and tournaments, which will bring more visitors to Robbinsdale.
The field, scheduled to be completed before its grand opening on July 10, will operate under a new name: MLB Twins All-Star Field. The July ceremony will feature a delegation from Major League Baseball and the Twins, as well as demonstration games with all-stars from local youth leagues.
Mayor Murphy grew up in Robbinsdale playing ball on the old field in Lee Park. Now he coaches his own children there. Soon, they will get to play in a brand-new facility.
“[It’s a] cool full-circle thing,” he said.
Staff writer James Walsh contributed to this report. Danielle Dullinger is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.