Scheels baseball, softball fields to be ready next season, Icon arena in November
Although funding and construction are still in the works, Grand Forks will soon have two new sports complexes on the south end.
The Icon Sports Center ice arena is still under construction, set to open in November, and if fundraising for the baseball and softball fields at the Scheels Sports Complex goes as planned, two fields should be complete by next season, said Bill Palmiscno, director of the Grand Forks Park District.
Both new facilities are being built in response to growing participation in the hockey, baseball and fast-pitch softball programs, he said.
When complete, the Scheels complex will have four Cal Ripken fields and one Babe Ruth field, Palmiscno said.
Cal Ripken fields are for baseball teams ages 12 and younger and fast-pitch softball teams. Babe Ruth fields are for baseball players ages 13 to 15.
“Phase one,” which is four diamonds without lights, is expected to cost $850,000, he said.
So far, the entire project has raised about $400,000 in pledges, he said, but not all of that money is available immediately. For example, the project was named after Scheels because the company donated $250,000 to be released $50,000 per year.
Once $250,000 in available funds is raised, construction on the first two fields will begin, Palmiscno said. He said those first two fields should be under construction by this fall or earlier to be ready for next season.
“They might not be totally complete, but they’ll be playable,” he said.
Although weather delayed construction on the Icon Sports Center, the $8.6 million, 91,000-square-foot arena is set to open in November, Palmiscno said.
The new arena will allow hockey players to practice more and play more home games, he said. It will especially benefit the younger players who are often “short-changed” by the shortage of ice time, he said.
The new arena will also allow Grand Forks to host about eight to 10 more tournaments, Palmiscno said. With the ice currently available, there are only about six home tournaments each season.
“It’s savings for the parents, so they won’t have to travel as much,” he said.
Both projects are a result of private fundraising, so the Park District doesn’t have to raise its taxes or raise the fees for participants, said Kelvin Ziegler, chairman for fundraising the Scheels project, who also coaches baseball and fast-pitch softball with children who play.
Ziegler agreed with Palmiscno that the new complexes will help Grand Forks’ growing sports programs.
“I think it’s something that Grand Forks and the surrounding cities needs,” he said. “We’ve got these kids right now looking for space to practice.”