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Wade Stadium renovation funding strikes out

Wade Stadium renovations

A request of state funding for renovations to Wade Stadium, home of the Duluth Huskies (summer collegiate; Northwoods League), was not included in an initial bonding request from Gov. Mark Dayton.

Every two years the state of Minnesota passes a bonding bill for projects throughout the state. Local municipalities send requests to the governor’s office, and their staff creates a bonding request, which is then sent to the Minnesota Legislature. Changes can (and often are) be made to this request, but it’s usually in the form of deletions.

This year the city of Duluth once again requested renovation funds for the WPA-era Wade Stadium, which formerly hosted pro and indy baseball. Gov. Dayton’s billion-dollar bonding request did not pass along the Duluth request. The city of Duluth was seeking $5.7 million for renovations, which would include more efficient ticketing areas and gates, a revamped concession area, a larger press box, and repairs to the exterior walls of the structure as well as new lighting, scoreboard, and playing surface.

Wade Stadium

Now, this doesn’t mean state funding for Wade Stadium renovations won’t be in the offing: state legislators, like State Rep. Erik Simonson, will lobby for its inclusion. And there’s certainly a need for the renovations: parts of the ballpark have collapsed in the last 12 months, raising safety issues for the city and fans. In a statement to the Duluth News-Tribune, Simonson said he will work for the funding:

“I think the governor’s (bonding) proposal has to be put into context. … He is laying out a billion-dollar proposal from nearly four times that in proposed projects. The fact that we have three of four significant projects included in his proposal indicates his strong support for Duluth. I am confident the Wade will be in the House bill, but whether it survives conference committee or not remains to be seen. If the stadium is not in the final bill, I hope the city continues with efforts to stop deterioration there until we can secure a plan for the stadium going forward.”

State Sen. Roger Reinert offered similar sentiments:

“The Wade is a historical asset in the western part of our community and important in the quality of life for all Northeastern Minnesota. The needed improvements at the Wade meet the test for a successful bonding project, and it continues to have my active support. If we as a community rally around this project, there’s no reason it can’t be successful in 2014.”

Wade Stadium is one of those old, classic ballparks that architects emulate in this day and age. Duluth has put off a lot of needed maintenance, but it’s time to address those issues.

Image courtesy of city of Duluth.

RELATED STORIES: Saints, Huskies ballparks pitched for Minnesota state funds; Duluth: We’ll continue seeking state fund for Wade Stadium renovationsDuluth Huskies unveil renovation plan for Wade Stadium


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