WASECA — Construction will start on the new grandstand for Tink Larson Field Thursday, Aug. 9, at 4:30 p.m. nearly a year and a half after the famous Waseca baseball field from 1939 was burned down.
The groundbreaking ceremony is one day after contractor bids are expected to be submitted to the City Council for the $1.8 million project.
The project was delayed because of flooding last fall, lots of discussion about how much the city should spend on the rebuild and an allocation of $275,000 from the Legislature in June that forced the city to rebid the project with contractors due to a state requirement for certain wages to be paid to workers on the project.
“It's just a matter of a project that Waseca needs,” said City Council Member Mark Christiansen. “We kinda had a rough year with the flood and then we have had people talking about other issues in town, sometimes it's a quality of life thing.”
Volunteers ran a campaigned and raised several hundred-thousand dollars to add to the $800,000 the city got from insurance. Donations came from the Minnesota Twins, businesses, and individuals who wanted to help the cause.
The field has deep ties to the Twins. Third base coach Gene Glynn is a Waseca native who grew up playing at the baseball field. Several of the seats at in the old grandstand came from the old Met Stadium when the stadium was torn down in 1985. Some of the seats were destroyed in the fire but others survived.
The ballpark was first built as part of President Roosevelt’s attempt to lift America out of the Depression in the 1930s. When the city considered tearing the structure down in the 1970s, Waseca baseball coach Tink Larson urged the city to instead renovate it. It was named after him in 1994.
Christiansen said the rebidding process this summer allowed more local contractors to participate in the rebuild because they had more time to get bids in than earlier this year.
“It’s been a long year,” Christiansen said. “Especially for Tink, too.”
The baseball field was tended to and cared for by Larson for more than 40 years before the wooden grandstand was burned down in April 2016, a week before the first game of the season.
Larson was the head coach at the Waseca High School for 35 years and had a 420-280 won-loss record, leading the team to the 1990 Class A state championship. He is a two-time state High School Baseball Coach of the Year and a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Larson had a motorcycle accident earlier this summer that left him with several broken bones and caused him to miss some of this summer’s baseball. Temporary bleachers have served instead of a grandstand since last year.
The construction is expected to run through this fall and pick up again to complete the new grandstand before the start of baseball season in 2018.