Construction is underway at the new Castle Field ballpark in Anoka.
Bryna Godar, Special to the Star Tribune
Storied Castle Field is wrapping up its run in Anoka
- Article by: BRYNA GODAR
- Special to the Star Tribune
- July 3, 2012 - 4:23 PM
More than 60 years of baseball games have left their mark on Anoka's Castle Field.
Water pools on the ground in the mornings and the paint is chipping on the concession stand.
On July 14, the historic ballpark will host two final games as ballplayers say farewell to the diamond and turn toward a new home near Anoka High School.
Construction on the new Castle Field near 7th Avenue began at the end of May and has been years in the making.
The field will open for limited play next summer and will officially open in April 2014.
"It's a mixed emotion, but for the most part I think we're all pretty excited," said David Steinbring, head coach for the American Legion team.
The process has involved input from local baseball clubs, the Anoka American Legion, city officials and the Anoka-Hennepin School District, all represented on the Castle Field Committee.
"Everybody brought their expertise to the gathering," said City Council Member Carl Anderson, one of the committee members. "I have never seen so many groups involved in working toward the completion of a project."
After cost assessments, the committee determined that it would be wiser to build a new field than to rehabilitate the old one.
"It was kind of reaching the end of its useful life," said Greg Lee, the city's public services director.
The Anoka American Legion originally donated the land in 1949, and Castle Field was built in 1950.
"The old field has lost its shine, and the playability isn't very good right now," Steinbring said.
He said the lights are "antique" and players can't see the ball at night.
"That makes for some interesting adventures sometimes," Steinbring said.
The city will turn over the site to HealthPartners in mid-July for a new RiverWay Clinic.
"This all became possible because HealthPartners was interested in Castle Field as a health clinic," Anderson said.
Lee said construction on the new field is going smoothly. Workers have completed grading for the site and are installing utilities.
Phase One of the construction involves the field, lights, scoreboard, stadium, bleachers -- everything directly associated with the field. It costs $1.58 million, funded mostly from the sale of the existing Castle Field to HealthPartners for $1.1 million. The city is funding the remainder from its electric utility and park capital funds.
This phase is scheduled to finish this fall, allowing for the limited play next year.
"High school seniors would like to play there at least a couple of times," Lee said. "We're trying to accommodate that as best as possible."
Phase Two work will be ongoing throughout the summer of 2013, with the addition of concessions, restroom facilities, a plaza area and an entrance monument. This work will cost around $440,000, which the city plans to pay for through donations.
To raise funds, the city will sell bucket seats and inscribed bricks for the entrance plaza, among other efforts.
Castle Field Association, a newly formed nonprofit organization, will help maintain the field and work to reduce the financial burden.
Steve Nelson, chairman of the Park Board and a member of the association, said all of those involved in planning became so invested in the new field that they volunteered to join the association.
"The city of Minneapolis is getting a new stadium, but we are too," Anderson joked.
Bryna Godar is a Minneapolis freelance writer.
© 2013 Star Tribune