The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 1, 2010

4th fireworks in limbo

Blakeslee Stadium construction adds to trouble with fundraising

MANKATO — Mankato’s Fourth of July fireworks tradition is in danger this year after a change in location and a drop in city support.

A year ago, a group of Mankato radio stations raised money and promoted the fireworks.

But the construction at Blakeslee Stadium field means the fireworks can’t take place there, which presents logistical hurdles that are too high, said Jo Guck Bailey, vice president and general manager of Minnesota Valley Broadcasting/Radio Mankato.

Spectators won’t be allowed into Blakeslee stands until late July.

“Re-enacting that infrastructure is a challenge,” she said. “It takes more to do than meets the eye.”

Planners must consider parking, traffic flow, law enforcement and restroom facilities, among other factors.

That challenge was compounded by the city of Mankato’s decision not to budget its typical $5,000 contribution.

“As it stands right now, there’s no fireworks effort being undertaken,” Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges said.

There are a few bright spots.

There’s $6,000 left over from last year’s fundraising efforts that will be given to the city and available for fireworks this year. The city is also still willing to provide in-kind support like traffic direction. And Riverfront Park can host the fireworks, though there will be challenges with a new site.

But the cost for fireworks is about $20,000, and no one has stepped forward to raise the remainder.

Before Radio Mankato lended a hand last year, the cost of fireworks had been raised by the business community. But contributions had declined in recent years.

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