By Joe Bachman
Championship-like improvements for a championship team.
The Finance & Property Committee approved upgrades to Witter Field on Tuesday night. With the 2017 season right around the corner, the Northwood League Champions Wisconsin Rapids Rafters welcome these well deserved stadium enhancements.
These improvements include:
-Removal of bleacher seating to replace with 64 stadium box seats and a bar rail.
-Installation of a videoboard next to the scoreboard.
-Approval for the Rafters to sponsor a Craft Beer Fest at Witter Field on Sept. 9.
-Leveling, regrading and re-sodding the infield and part of the outfield with the assistance of city crews.
While there is no official cost for most of these projects, the Rafters will pay for most of these upgrades on their own, including applying for a Northwoods League Grant for some of the upgrades. The city estimates that field upgrades would cost in the $22,000 range, with the city contributing $10,000 of that cost.
Local landscape firm Ball Diamond Fine Sports Turf LLC will assist with sod cutting and removal. The money will be pulled from the Witter Field Outlay Budget.
“Typically, in baseball, the field is supposed to be regraded every eight to 10 years,” said Rafters General Manager John Fanta. “It’s built up natural wear and tear to the point where the grade level is putting everyone in danger — not just the Rafters, but the American legion, high school baseball team and players at risk.”
Upgrades to the field are slated to start late this fall to be ready by the 2018 season.