Grants from Target Field tax will upgrade two city fields

The soccer field at Lyndale Farmstead Park will soon get artificial turf as part of a grant program that is funded by a sales tax also used to build Target Field.  

The soccer field is run down because of heavy use, according to a Park Board memo.  Hennepin County and the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission awarded the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board $80,000 to install artificial turf. The Park Board will have to match the grant with $80,000 of its own funds.

Another $100,000 grant, again matched by the Park Board, will go toward renovating two softball fields at the intersection of Marshall Avenue and St. Anthony Parkway in the Columbia Park neighborhood.

Those fields are on Xcel Energy property and have been in disrepair for two years while Xcel deals with soil contamination.

The Park Board will hold community meeting to gain input on the projects before construction which would start this summer in Northeast and this fall at Lyndale Farmstead, said Cliff Swenson, director of planning, design and project management.

The Park Board plans on applying for another grant in 2014 so that it can expand on the Xcel Energy property and add two more fields. The fields would then be able to accommodate adult softball, girls fast pitch softball and youth baseball.

Swenson said there’s a demand for more ball fields in the city, as the Park Board has had to turn away adult softball teams and advanced youth baseball teams have to travel often because of a lack of large fields.

Mike Blumenfled, president of the Minneapolis Youth Baseball Association, said the city has lost 500 kids to Richfield for recreation league baseball and said that having a larger field in Northeast will provide more opportunities for kids in North and Northeast, who have to travel to Fort Snelling to play home games if they make traveling teams.

Plus, there’s just a general lack of fields in Minneapolis, Blumenfield said.

“From the practice point of view, its something that leads to teams just practicing on a patch of grass and a pile of dirt,” Blumenfield said.

Over the past five years, 15 Minneapolis parks have received $2.7 million in youth sports funding from the Target Field sales tax.  Projects have primarily been baseball fields, soccer fields and tennis courts.