Interest in upgrading another Mitchell sports facility is gaining traction.
Drake Field at the Cadwell Park Sports Complex could be next in line to be renovated with artificial turf, according to officials with Mitchell Baseball Association and Dakota Wesleyan University.
The field is adjacent to Mitchell's main baseball diamond, Cadwell Park, and is used by teener, high school, and college teams. It could become the second athletic playing field in Mitchell to switch from natural grass to artificial turf following Joe Quintal Field overhaul this summer.
Luke Norden, Mitchell Baseball Association director of baseball operations, said there's a higher probability of the project coming to fruition with a three-way commitment.
"We'd have to sit down with Dakota Wesleyan and the city and figure out costs," Norden said.
The Cadwell Park Sports Complex is a city-owned and managed facility, but it is used by DWU's baseball team for its practices and home games both in the fall and the spring.
DWU Athletic Director Jon Hart said in an email the school "would definitely support and consider contributing to the project knowing how big of a benefit this would be to the Mitchell community as a whole."
A potential timeline for the project, Norden said, would be fall of 2019 after the conclusion of the state amateur baseball tournament, which returns to Mitchell next year. Drake serves as a backup field during the tournament in case inclement weather postpones multiple games.
"We really don't have a plan right now, but hopefully we can get something planned out budget-wise for this fall," he said.
Artificial turf has been discussed in recent years by the city. The Mitchell Park, Recreation and Forestry Board on June 22, 2017, considered multiple projects during a special meeting that listed possible capital improvements.
Dan Dobesh, Mitchell's sports complex manager, said he's been in contact with companies to get cost estimates for switching Drake's infield to turf. The total surface area to replace would be about 30,000 square feet, and the price has ranged between $225,000 to $300,000. The outfield would remain natural grass.
Norden, who coaches Mitchell's spring high school and Legion teams, said his players have enjoyed traveling to fields that have artificial turf. Another positive for turf is the light maintenance it requires, especially following rain.
"If we did do this, we need to talk about if it's going to be open like it is now-anyone and everyone can go out there," Norden said. "Would we leave it that way? Or would we have to re-do fence to close it off. That's another cost consideration."
Meanwhile, Mitchell Baseball Association has another project to mull in its budget considerations. The organization is seeking to raise funds for an indoor practice facility to be built on city-owned property at the corner of West 15th Avenue and the Highway 37 bypass.
Mitchell Baseball signed a two-year lease, which ends in January 2020, for the still-vacant lot and pays $300 per year, plus utilities, in hopes of building the 80-by-120-foot indoor structure.
Norden said Mitchell Baseball's board has not yet discussed which project, either artificial turf at Drake or the indoor facility, holds higher priority.