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Preserving a ballpark with berms

Ballpark DigestChaska Athletic Park, a short-lived pro venue and a bastion of Minnesota amateur baseball, is a picturesque, classic facility threatened every spring by flooding — but city officials are working to change that.

A riverfront site is sought-after these days for new ballparks; of course, back in 1950 when the ballpark was built by volunteers, the land’s location on the flood plain made it less desirable. It’s always been fairly inevitable that the Minnesota River would flood every spring, but in recent years water levels are higher than normal because there’s no other place in the area for the water to go: an extensive new levee system in the city pretty much forced the river to the ballpark site. That meant six feet of water sitting on the diamond in April this year.

Now, that’s not good for an 800-seat wooden grandstand, which has suffered a lot of water damage over the years and costing the city $30,000 every time there was flooding. So city officials are working on a berm plan that would protect the ballpark. It won’t be cheap — between $100,000 and $250,000, depending on some material costs — but in the end the investment will more than pay for itself.

The ballpark, besides hosting amateur Chaska Cubs and Minnesota State High School League tournament games, was home to the ill-fated Chaska Valley Buccaneers, who lasted for 14 games in the independent North Central League before the league went under in 1995. 


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