Krueger Field grandstand to be demolished
PERHAM -- An exploratory committee has been formed to deliberate the demolition and replacement of the baseball grandstand at Krueger Field in Perham.
The committee is made up of 15 officials from the city, school, utility and local business members, athletic association members and the media.
Three inner committees were formed at the meeting and will remain open to new members: a steering committee: this group would oversee all phases of the process including media, contracting, schedule, budget etc.; a design and construction committee and a fundraising committee.
The city owns the regional landmark and facility but has no budget for this project. The committees have been formed to create a feasible way to complete the task.
The school's financial situation is similar to the city regarding access to funds.
Perham High School has been using the facility rent free, with much of the credit for that discount, due to the time and efforts of Bob Schepper and members of the Perham Athletic Association.
Baseball spectators can expect a far different experience at Krueger Field this coming season.
The center section of the covered grandstand was built in the 1930's, as a Works Progress Administration project. Later, two wings were added to either side of the original structure.
According to ongoing monitoring and a recent inspection, the poles that support the roof have rotted to the point that future repairs defy common sense.
Furthermore, areas of seating support are failing.
This spring, fans attending high school games will not be allowed to sit underneath the roof if, indeed, it is still there.
The current grandstand seats approximately 700 people and the replacement will likely hold a smaller number.
A general consensus was concluded that seating would be reduced from approximately 700 to 450, number of rows reduced from eight to six and the plywood façade replaced with brick. The rows of seating would also be built at a steeper angle to allow for better sight lines.
Seating would be steel and a roof would cover the center section. Seating would be placed on a concrete slab, and a press box would be added to the back row of seats in the center section.
Timber frame specialists who inspected the current structure noted a number of deficiencies.
Specifically, poles are not touching the ground due to rot. Some 2x10s underneath the grandstand have rotted to the point an inspector was able to stick a finger completely through one of the rotten boards.
A structural engineer from New York Mills filed a report that the grandstand, in its current state, is not something he could stand behind as being sound.
His recommendation was to take the grandstand down.
Discussions were had on repairing the grandstand, but initial conclusions were any money spent on repair is likely equivalent to simply throwing it away.
Without the roof, which must be removed, weather would deteriorate any of the failing structure that remained.
A number of options were discussed on the actual replacement, with the historical and regional significance of the structure in mind. It is the desire of the committee to replace a 75-year landmark with another landmark that will last at least 75 years.
Along with Smith Field in New York Mills, Legion Field in Fergus Falls and Washington Park in Detroit Lakes, Krueger Field is one of the most well-known, respected and enjoyable baseball fields in the region, along with being one of the only baseball stadiums, in the area, with covered seating for large crowds.
Combined with Matt's Field, the two ballparks have been host to numerous state tournaments.
According to the city's website, Krueger Field hosted the 1995 Minnesota State Men's Baseball Tournament and the 1996 Fargo/Moorhead Red Hawks professional baseball team in its first exhibition game.
The Krueger Field facilities host multiple games and tournaments throughout the summer months for high school, Legion, VFW, and amateur leagues.
The replacement of the grandstand will likely be done in phases and those phases will be directly linked to funding.
Actual dollar figures for the removal of the grandstand are still being explored.
City manager Kelsey Klemm agreed to draw up a request for proposal for demolition of the grandstand with a goal of the end February to have the grandstand razed.
Future costs range well past just demolition. Re-routing of the electrical system to run the lights and public address system will be necessary once the structure is removed.
While planning is still in the early stages, the committee has acquired enough information to believe the bleachers, roof and slab can be completed for approximately $200,000; cost of demolition, lights and press box are still unknown, but could amount to an additional $35,000.
These numbers are estimates only.
Discussion was held regarding the light tower power situation; it appears that the current wiring configuration is in violation of code and that specific transformers to each pole should be reduced to one transformer.
Otter Tail Power may be consulted to assist in the best means to resolve this issue.
Whether the lights will be functional this coming season is not assured.
To use the field in the coming season, a backstop, temporary or permanent, will need to be constructed.
The backstop would likely be the third phase of construction after the demolition and utility work.
Aside from the necessary razing of the grandstand, the remaining needs at Krueger Field will be assessed and moved upon at future meetings, with an emphasis on fundraising.