Raffle planned for Fritz Field lights

By Paul Downer
Community Editor

By Paul Downer

Community Editor

Last April members of the Cologne Baseball Association attended a Cologne City Council meeting and shared a proposal to eventually add lights to their home ballpark, Fritz Field, in partnership with the city.

This summer, residents who would like the chance to win cash and help in that effort are being invited to participate in a super raffle that will function as a fundraiser. Only 200 raffle tickets will be sold at $100 apiece, and 20 winners will receive between $1,000 and $100. All proceeds will go toward the installation of lights.

In addressing the city council on the matter, Darrin Good shared a list of benefits to the city from improving the baseball field, including bringing in more youth, high school and town team games, thus bringing more people through town who will use goods and services of local businesses.

Good also outlined recent improvements to the field over the past few years as evidence that the association is capable of planning for, funding and carrying out projects. Some of those improvements he listed included the installation of a wood outfield fence, new chain link fence, grandstand seating, press box and concession stand upgrades, and more.

The association has solicited quotes for installing lights from multiple companies and found that the cost would be about $150,000. However, that price could be reduced significantly if the association is able to do some of the work with volunteer help.

Adding lighting will likely not be a near-term project. Based on past performance and upcoming plans, the association estimates that it can raise about $76,000 by 2016. With potential outside sources of funding such as grants or city capital improvement funding, the association hopes to begin some of the work around 2015.

"This is our first year of working that plan," said association member Jason Kuerschner. "So far, with just our regular fundraising and concession stand, we’re on pace to do what we said we were going to do. With this raffle, if it works out the way we think it will, we’ll be halfway to the $50,000 that we told the city we’d like to start from when we get to that point."

When association members asked the council for guidance on any additional funding sources in April, Mayor Bernie Shambour Jr. noted that the addition of lights at the field is on the city’s list of capital improvements, though not necessarily a high priority, and City Administrator John Douville informed association members that the city has not budgeted any money toward capital improvements in the last two years due to the difficult economy.

However, Shambour said that no one would dispute the benefit of adding lights at the field and bringing more people to town, and noted that it was good the association was coming to the city ahead of time to make its intentions known so that future plans could be formulated.

One representative from a lighting company was on hand to answer questions regarding maintenance and operation costs. He informed the council that great strides in lighting technology have been made in the past five years or so, making it possible to provide the same amount of light with fewer fixtures than before. Lamps with a 5,000-hour life expectancy would be used, and would cost about $5 per hour to operate.

A 25-year warrant on the lights would be available so that the city would not have to budget for maintenance until the end of that period, and all the lamps would be changed as they approached the end of their life expectancy at no additional charge.

Anyone interested in participating in the raffle can contact any Cologne Hollanders baseball player or call Kuerschner at (612) 598-4820. Winners will be announced during the team’s fall Beer Bust at Burky’s on Sept. 22. There is no deadline to purchase tickets, which will be sold as long as supply allows.