Duluth’s historic WPA-era Wade Stadium would be extensively renovated under a game plan unveiled yesterday by the Duluth Huskies (summer collegiate; Northwoods League).
It’s a pretty cool plan, one that keeps the historic nature of the ballpark while upgrading the mechanicals and overhauling fan spaces. For the fans, a new parking-lot-side entry would be added, concessions would be overhauled, and theater-style seats would replace the metal bleachers behind home plate. New lights, a new roof and a scoreboard would be added. The current picnic area would be overhauled. New artificial turf would be installed. And a new concessions area would be placed beyond left field to serve the many softball players at the fields adjacent to the ballpark.
The total cost: $8.1 million. Upgrading Wade Stadium has been a goal for city and team officials in recent years; in 2011 funds for a Wade Stadium renovation were included in a state bonding bill that ultimate failed to pass the Minnesota Legislature. This year Wade Stadium was not included in Gov. Mark Dayton‘s initial bonding request to the 2012 session of the Legislature, but there’s a feeling there could be a separate bonding measure for sports facilities in the state — one that would include funding for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium and an overhaul of Target Center, home of the Minnesota Timberwolves — and money for the Wade could be included in that measure.
Wade Stadium was constructed in 1940-1941 with city funds and money from the Works Progress Administration. It hosted professional baseball in the form of the original Northern League and was an original ballpark in the relaunch of the independent Northern League 20 years ago.
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