Twelve straight days of amateur baseball will remain in Mitchell for another year.
The 2021 South Dakota Class B amateur baseball tournament, which was originally scheduled for Sioux Falls, has been moved to Mitchell’s Cadwell Park. The tournament is Aug. 4-15.
Augustana University’s Ronken Field was set to host, but declined due to COVID-19 concerns, said South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association President Dale Weber.
“They were concerned that they might have to restrict the attendance come August,” Weber said. “They weren’t sure what would happen between now and then. So rather than taking a chance about restricting the attendance, they bowed out.”
Weber said the amateur baseball commissioners unanimously voted to bring the tournament to Mitchell. Cadwell Park, a popular site for the tournament, will now host the event five consecutive years. After Augustana hosted it in 2018, Cadwell Park was the site again in 2019 and ‘20. Mitchell will also host the event in 2022 and ‘23.
“Mitchell has always been a very good host,” Weber said. “We’ve always had good attendance. So there was no problem by the commission to return to Mitchell for 2021.
When Augie declined to host this year’s event, amateur baseball tournament director and Mitchell Baseball Association board member Jim “Jocko” Johnston said it was an easy decision to host again.
“We bid for the state tournament every year,” Johnston said. “We want it as many years as we can have it and we’ve always got a hat in the ring to host the tournament.”
Johnston also said the Mitchell Baseball Association has two major projects on the horizon that would benefit the tournament and several baseball teams.
Drake Field, which sits adjacent to Cadwell Park, could be in line to be renovated with artificial turf. The field is used by teener, high school and Dakota Wesleyan University baseball teams.
It’s also used to host Class A state amateur tournament baseball games and Johnston said it could attract more tournaments in the future.
Johnston said the other goal is to have shade structures at Cadwell Park, similar to the fabric at the youth baseball and softball fields at the complex, which would be over the bleachers behind home plate.
Cadwell Park currently doesn’t offer shade over its bleachers and that’s one complaint Johnston hears every year at the tournament.
Both projects are priorities and hope to be completed within the next two years, said Johnston. For the turf project in particular, funding timeline has yet to be finalized with the city of Mitchell.
“Those are the two big projects we are working on and we are hopeful to be able to have those projects done by 2023,” Johnston said. “Although the financing has to fall together in order for that to happen.”
Weber said the facility upgrades played heavily in returning to Mitchell.
“That’s very encouraging,” he said. “In fact, that probably led to the commissioners to getting a favorable decision on three years in a row because Mitchell was looking forward to improving the park.”