The beautiful ballpark in Sleepy Eye was dismissed for Springfield by New Ulm to co-host the 2020 Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament. But why?
At the beginning of the month, news had broke that New Ulm chose Springfield to co-host the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament in 2020. Sleepy Eye was under consideration to host with New Ulm. Both fields in New Ulm, Johnson Park and Mueller Park will be used in the tournament. So, with Sleepy Eye under consideration, a New Ulm board state committee decided to use Springfield over Sleepy Eye. Why, you ask? Personally and biasedly, I have no idea. I am at the ballpark in Sleepy Eye basically every day from March until October. I am extremely disappointed in this decision.
We have the nicest ballpark in the area, hands down. We have the history. The field is always ready to play on. Grass is always freshly watered, edged, and mowed. The city does a nice job cleaning up around the ballpark as well. It’s just beautiful. Now, could we make improvements to some of the amenities such as the concessions, bathrooms, and grandstands? Sure, but that costs a lot of money and takes for a lot of people to be on board.
I was given two main reasons as to why Springfield was chosen over Sleepy Eye. One was the proximity in which Sleepy Eye is closer to New Ulm in case of rain. More on that later. The other was because Springfield is spending a bunch of money on new concessions, bathrooms, and a new press box. Springfield has raised upwards of $400,000 for such projects. Where or how, I am not sure. Kudos to them, as that is a very impressive number. Also helps that they have one team. Where as Sleepy Eye branches out to the Indians, Stark, Leavenworth, and Essig.
Now, this isn’t a pity party. However, we should all feel some sort of disrespect that we were not chosen. The state tournament would have made us quite a bit of money in which we could make a few improvements. Rumor has it, each game we would have hosted could have brought in about $1,000 per game. Not to mention what it could have done for the city, especially with the restaurants and newly renovated hotel and campground in town.
We have co-hosted the Legion Upper Midwest Classic with New Ulm in the past. That has come back in the past two years, which is great. We bailed them out a few years ago when it rained so much in New Ulm that the fields were not playable. We had our field playable that night and they moved the games over here on short notice.
I guess I just feel that a few members of New Ulm have animosity towards Sleepy Eye for whatever reason and they just can’t admit it. I get along with a lot of New Ulm members and they’ve been good to me in the past through coaching and scheduling and what not, but something about this decision seems off. What if Springfield floods, once again? Does every year and this year was pretty bad. Bad enough to shift all football games to Sticker Field near the school.
The reasoning of Sleepy Eye being to close to New Ulm? It may be true, but is pretty silly. As aforementioned, it wasn’t an issue during the Upper Midwest that year it rained in New Ulm. The distance from New Ulm to Sleepy Eye is approximately 14.6 miles. From Springfield, it is 28.4 miles.You’re thinking, well of course, we know that. However, in 2018, the State Tournament was held in Shakopee, New Prague, and Jordan. From Shakopee to New Prague was 21.5 miles. Jordan to New Prague, 9.9 miles. Jordan to Shakopee? 11.5 miles. Outlier, right? Wrong. In 2017, Green Isle, Norwood-Young America, and Hamburg. Green Isle to Norwood-Young America is 9.7 miles. Green Isle to Hamburg, 5.2 miles. Norwood-Young America to Hamburg is only 4.3 miles. 2016, Hutchinson, Dassell, and Litchfield. Furthest distance was Litchfield to Hutch, roughly 21 miles. But, Streich. New Ulm is using two fields in one city, a further third site makes sense. Well, no. In 2015, Cold Spring and Watkins were the only two sites. The mile disparity was just 10.7 miles. So, I am not saying..but I am saying.
Many of you may not care, or even know. But the state amateur tournament brings in revenue to local baseball associations, businesses, and brings fans from about 64 teams into the city. This past year, the attendance record was broken with 17,349 paid in full over the three ballparks. The most since 1960. Yes, it takes a lot of work. Yes, it takes a lot of volunteers. Yes, it takes sponsors. And yes, it should be in Sleepy Eye. If New Ulm doesn’t want us in 2020, let’s work together as a community to bring it to Sleepy Eye sometime. It has been way too long(2000) since our ballpark has hosted the State Tournament.