Council approves Cadwell Park press box project after costs soar $192K above budget
As council member Marty Barington put it, bids coming in over budgeted and estimated amounts is the “new norm"
MITCHELL — Despite coming in roughly $192,000 over budget, the Mitchell City Council unanimously approved the lone bid to revamp the Cadwell Park press box.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the council awarded Rexwinkel Concrete’s $560,000 bid to build a new press box atop Mitchell’s baseball stadium.
Since inflation soared over the past year, city officials have seen a fair share of high bids. As council member Marty Barington put it, bids coming in over budgeted and estimated amounts is the “new norm.”
The $592,700 project will replace the 460-square-foot structure that sits atop the bleachers of the baseball park overlooking the field. A shaded structure feature that will provide shade for roughly half of the stadium seating will also be included in the project.
Although the city opened bids up for two schedules – one with a completion date of July and the other with a July 2024 completion date — Public Works Director Joe Schroeder said only one bid was submitted for the 2024 schedule.
Mitchell Baseball Association — one of the local athletic clubs that utilize the city-owned baseball park often — pledged to cover roughly 50% of the project. However, the 50% cost coverage pledge of the new press box was made when the project was estimated to cost roughly $400,000.
Council member Jeff Smith relayed comments from Tim Smith, a Mitchell Baseball Association official, who explained in a letter that he was “shocked and disappointed” at how much project costs have risen over the past year, which was estimated to cost roughly $325,000 a little over a year ago.
“It amazes me that a project estimated at $325,000 a year and a half ago could rapidly increase to what it is now. Perhaps it should not come as a surprise as the article said in the Mitchell Republic last week — related to the state legislature — dealing with nine building projects which have exceeded budgets by more than 25%,” Smith wrote in the letter to the council.
According to Mitchell Baseball officials, roughly $110,000 has been raised in donations as of now. With the increased cost of the project, Mitchell Baseball Association officials weren’t able to commit to covering half of the $592,700 cost.
Councilman Dan Sabers issued his support for moving forward with the press box overhaul and said the city should be able to fund the brunt of the project regardless of the bid exceeding the budgeted amount.
“I was in the press box during the state tournament, and it’s getting old. I think it should be the city’s responsibility,” Sabers said.
The press box dates back to 1975. As it’s aged through several decades, local baseball leaders say it’s reached the point of a total replacement.
Sabers pointed to the shaded structure portion of the new press box as a key feature, noting that the majority of the baseball games are played in daylight.
Improving Cadwell Park has come into focus among city leaders over the past few years. A key factor motivating some council members like Council President Kevin McCardle to invest in making improvements to the baseball park is attracting the 12-day annual South Dakota State Amateur Baseball tournament.
Cadwell Park has hosted the amateur baseball tournament 19 times in the past. It’s a popular host site among amateur baseball commissioners who select the host cities each year. Mitchell has been selected to host the event this year in August and once again in 2024.
City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein said the Parks and Recreation Department could provide the additional funds not in the budgeted amount, which would be revisited during budgeting discussions for 2024.