By Nick Gerhardt
It’s been five years since Delano and Maple Lake hosted the state tournament and both are gearing up another run at it in 2019.
Delano will host the state tournament for the fifth time at historic Municipal Baseball Park at Central Park with Maple Lake and Dassel-Cokato as the third site. The field dates back to 1896 and features iconic outfield ivy, which was added in the 1980s. Delano hosted the 1975, 1984, and 1997 and 2013 state tournaments and is getting ready for one more tournament.
The grandstand can hold 750 fans but there’s room for a slew of other fans to watch the game. Delano added seating decks prior to the 2013 state tournament to increase the park’s capacity.
Delano needed all the room it could find during the last state tournament it hosted. The 2013 state tournament drew 14,172 fans, an increase of more than 2,000 from the previous year and a nearly 5,000 increase from the 2011 state tournament. The hosts will have a tall task in front of them this coming year after the 2018 state tournament drew 17,349 fans — the most since 1960.
Delano performed extensive renovation work in anticipation of the 2013 state tournament and has continued that work whether planned or circumstantial. The $500,000 worth of work for the 2013 state tournament included a new concession stand, new scoreboard, viewing decks and renovation of the press box.
Fans who attended the 2013 state tournament at Municipal Baseball Park will see some new features once again. Following the 2013 state tournament the city of Delano endured yet another flood and Municipal Baseball Park saw damage, which hasn’t been unusual during the history of the park. The park has seen a handful of floods in the past 75 years but got some assistance after the latest flood. Municipal Baseball Park received FEMA funds after the flood and used that money to raise center field four feet for better drainage.
The work for the 2019 state tournament continues as Delano completes its grandstand, which was built in 1996. The plan is to extend the roofing of the grandstand. It’s been a partial roof with just the top two rows covered but that will be extended to cover the entire grandstand for the 2019 state tournament. The backstop netting protecting the fans in the grandstand will be raised from 18 to 30 feet, which is expected to be completed by May and there’s work on a building down the third base line similar to Dassel’s.
Work on the lights will continue and tournament chair Jeff Janzen expects that the stadium will use LED lights. As that happens, there are plans to redo the original electrical wiring underneath that dates from the 1940s, Janzen said.
Delano made improvements to the dugouts around a year and a half ago and will have netting in front of them, as well as stools for players to sit on. Portions of the field have been leveled, new sod was installed and edging work done, too. The club also poured concrete maintenance strips along the right and left field fences and finished up work around home plate.
“Our organization can just focus on the field,” Janzen said.
Delano plans to shut down the field shortly after July 4 to prep it for the state tournament, which will start in August.