WEBSTER, S.D. (KELO) — Construction is in progress in Webster, S.D. as the town of nearly 1,700 people is getting closer to having their own version of Target Field.
Target Field is the home stadium to the Minnesota Twins. It opened in 2010 and can hold nearly 40,000 fans.
Webster’s version of the stadium won’t hold 40,000, but it will bear a striking resemblance to the Minneapolis facility.
The community does have a t-ball field, but unlike their other fields, the t-ball field is not at the baseball complex.
Webster Complex Coordinator, Chad Hesla came up with the idea to build a new t-ball facility at the current complex, located in southeast Webster.
“I was doing some research on the internet. I saw some Fenway Parks and some Wrigley Fields and they’re great parks and they’re old and they’ve got the history,” Hesla said. “I just wanted something local and thought the Twins’ Target Field was a good idea.”
Hesla and the community began to raise funds for the project as they determined they would need $70,000 for the project.
A main contributor was the Minnesota Twins themselves, via the Twins Community Fund.
“They gave a total of $17,000 for it over a couple years. We’ve been awarded a couple of grant cycles and they’ve been a huge help for us in the past and they stepped up for us in this project also,” Hesla said.
“That community has an amazing passion for baseball and softball and there has just been unbelievable community support to try and keep baseball alive and keep fans and kids in the game,” Twins Community Fund Executive Director Kristin Rortvedt said. “It’s been really fun to partner with them over the years.”
Several other local businesses and people have also donated and to help contribute to the new facility.
Webster’s new field will have features similar to Target Field, with an obvious reduction in size.
“The bases will be 45 feet, the pitcher’s rubber will be 30 feet, so those are 50 percent of a regular baseball field. The fence at Target Field is eight feet tall and we’re going four feet,” Hesla said. “When you get over to right field, the fence is 23 feet and we’re going eleven and a half. All the distances for the outfield fence are based off Target Field and that’s around 27%.”
“We’ve gotten a lot of help from the head groundskeeper at Target Field to design it and come up with the measurements and stuff like that,” Hesla said. “It’s been a fun process.”
“We love to talk about how Twins Territory is not just in the Twin Cities. Twins Territory really is the whole upper-Midwest,” Rortvedt said. “This project in Webster is really highlighting how far our Twins fans have spread across the upper-Midwest.”
It was recently announced that the Webster school will be expanding and that means the current t-ball field will soon be taken away, which is another reason the new field will be key to the community.
“It’s kind of weird how it worked out, but I had started this project before that and then the school announced that they were adding on to the school and that they were taking away that little baseball field on the playground,” Hesla said. “It’ll be a really good advantage for us to have them on the complex.”
The infield dirt and pitcher’s mound were recently put in via a Minnesota company who lasered the infield to ensure accuracy.
The field will continue to see progression over the next two months as Hesla and the community hopes to have the sod laid and the lights put up by sometime in August.
Hesla is hopeful the field will be ready for a full season of action in 2023.
A scoreboard is set to be added in left field, similar to the location of the jumbotron at Target Field. However, Hesla is hoping to put in a manual scoreboard, so kids can use the board on their own.
That is one of the main goals for the new field. Getting kids to come out and play, while learning to the game of baseball.
“That’s our goal is to start them young and give them a great place to play. A lot of the theory behind this field, is it’s not just t-ball. It’s kind of a sandlot idea for kids just to come out and play,” Hesla said. “You don’t necessarily need a coach, you can get a couple buddies and play two on two. We can just let the kids have fun and learn the game on their own.”
TWINS COMMUNITY FUND
This isn’t the first time that the Twins Community Fund has aided to the community of Webster.
“They started it on day one when we broke ground twenty years ago. They helped us with an initial grant to get us going,” Hesla said. “We’ve had a great relationship with them.”
The Twins Community Fund has a budget of two million dollars each year and they distribute that to many communities throughout the upper-Midwest.
“Communities and schools have an opportunity to apply for our grants. Our grants for the field programs, specifically they open in January of each year,” Rortvedt said. “Chad and his team jumped online, they filled out the application. We have a board of directors and they review every application, to determine what our ability to give is.”
Webster and the Twins Community Fund have worked closely throughout the years and that’s another reason why the program is thriving.
“This industry is amazing. There are people willing to help you all over the place,” Hesla said.