Mobridge softball complex getting one-step-at-a-time refurbishing
By Jay Davis
In 1980, the softball complex in Mobridge was a brand new facility. At 27 years old, it is in need of updating. Some has been done, but there is plenty more to do before the Bridge City Softball Association is done.
“Our goal is to create a place where an entire family can enjoy a weekend of softball,” said BCSA spokesman B.J. Wiest. “We’ve done some things already, but there is a lot more to do.”
Most of the improvements have been done to the east field, the one that has always been commonly referred to as the B Field. In the past, B Field was always the second choice for games because it did not have lights. No one settles for B Field anymore. The diamond not only has lights, but the field has been extended to where the outfield fence is now 290 feet from home plate, a full 45 feet farther than it used to be. New dugouts with cement bases have also been built.
“We did the B Field without having to spend too much money,” said Wiest. “It did take a lot of man power and sweat. The City of Mobridge stepped up and really helped us get it accomplished.”
Other improvements already done are the addition of a shed for storing mowers, chalk lime and other equipment, and the concession stands/restrooms received a new roof after a storm damaged the old one. The city jumped in and took care of the damage to the concession building.
BCSA has been and is raising money as much more needs to be done before the complex is up to date and ready to be a place where the game can be played by this and the next generations of softball players.
“Most of the money we’ve raised so far has come from our annual kickball tournament and from the city through the park board,” said Wiest. “We are in year two of receiving $7,500 a year for five years from the city.”
The success of the kickball tournament (this will be the fourth year) has been a true boon to raising money to fund the refurbishing ventures.
“Without the tournament and the generosity of our sponsors we wouldn’t be where we are,” said Wiest. “Plus we’ve had a lot of generosity from our winning teams. We’ve gotten about 90 percent of the payouts given back.”
The money that has been generated has a big project that is next in line for the complex. The infields on both diamonds are dirt with more than a few rocks mixed in to carve up legs of base runners and give infielders nicks, cuts and bruises when batted balls take bad bounces. The complex is in dire need of an infield resurfacing and that starts with the same Agri-Lime that already covers the infields at Legion Memorial Field and the MYO diamonds.
For now, BCSA has been working with Mobridge Youth Organization to at least get the fields dragged a couple times a week so the dirt and rocks are a smoother version of what the teams have been playing on the last few seasons. There are three Mobridge men’s teams and two Mobridge women’s teams along with a McLaughlin team that are using the complex as their home field. Each team is pitching in $100, which in turn goes to MYO, whose summer employees are doing the dragging and field touch-up.
“Addressing the infields is the biggest task at hand,” said Wiest, “but it will be very expensive. Along with that, we may have to extend the size of the infields. ASA (Amateur Softball Association) is talking about moving the bases back from 50 to 70 as a player safety precaution. It’s going to happen so we’re going to have to deal with it.”
Finding the funding for the new infields may be a daunting task. Agri-Lime is not only an expensive replacement, getting that much shipped here will also have a steep price.
But, BCSA does plan on finding a way to get it done. The association does not want to stop there either. There is still going to be a long list of improvements.
“We would like to extend the A diamond and get more lighting for that field,” said Wiest. “Plus we’ve talked about things like foul poles, a shelter between the fields, better grandstands and playground equipment for kids.”
The next step at fundraising will come at the end of July with the fourth annual kickball tournament. The tourney is a huge draw with enough teams entering that the first rounds require games to be played at the MYO fields as well as the complex. This year’s tourney is set for Aug. 25 and 26, a month later than last year’s, which offers more time for potential teams to get involved in the fun. Registration will be open soon.