New outdoors sports complex taking shape in Blackduck

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BLACKDUCK -- If you’ve walked or driven past the Blackduck High School baseball and softball fields in the last couple of weeks, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that there is a lot of activity going on.

But when the Drakes’ bats crack once again next April, they’ll be doing so in a new and improved outdoor sports complex spearheaded by BHS baseball coach Dwight Kalvig.

Kalvig spurred the interest of Jim Krabbenhoft, Karl Gustafson and Daryl Lundberg who assisted in the planning of the project, along with input from BHS softball coach Sheena Reese and others. In the preliminary stages, architectural drafts were presented to the BHS Athletic/Activities Director Ryan Grow and went on to the School Board, where the plans were presented at the June meeting. In July, the School Board approved the project with some modifications per school policies and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access, along with city ordinances.

The dream of a more professional facility has been in the minds of spring and summer sports enthusiasts such as Kalvig, Reese and many others for years, but in 2018 that is becoming a reality with the help of professional skilled workers who have volunteered their time and talents in the area of design, contracting, carpentry, electrical, plumbing and more. With the volunteer labor on these key needs, the estimated price tag on the project was $130,000. The volunteers have cut that number in at least half. In fact, the only paid labor necessary was for the boring and trenching to lay power, electric, cable and internet lines. “And of course, we hope that the volunteer labor continues through the completion of the complex,” Kalvig said.

Also contributing to making the dream a reality are donations of $15,000 from the Drakes Baseball Boosters, $1,500 from the Softball Boosters, a $20,000 grant from the George W. Nielson Foundation, $1,000 from the Blackduck Firemen’s Relief Fund, $500 from the Blackduck Lions, and many private donations of varying amounts.

The new outdoor sports complex will feature four new structures -- with add-ons and remodeling to others. A single structure that will make taking in the spring games much more comfortable is a centrally located building that has easy access from the varsity and junior varsity fields as well as the softball field. The building will include the JV dugout and storage space, two restrooms, a concession stand and a covered patio on either end with views of all three fields.

The softball field dugouts are receiving a facelift with new siding and a press box is being added to the west end of the home dugout. On the baseball side, the high school will have a new set of dugouts and a press box and a relocation of the backstop.

These improvements will increase the comfort and attractiveness of both playing and watching spring sports, as well as giving the fields permanent sound systems for local announcers and radio play-by-play. Previously a sound system had to be set up for each individual day and game.

If all goes as planned, the outdoor sports complex will be completed by Nov. 1.

The coaches said they appreciated the school was willing to listen, analyze and approve the project, but added the donated labor was the turning point in going from dream to reality.

“We are fortunate to have professionals who willingly gave us their time and effort,” Kalvig said. “The volunteer spirit is alive and well in Blackduck.”