With the feeling that Kraft Field has fallen behind the state's ballpark peers, Grand Forks baseball supporters have turned to crowdfunding to fix the city's top facility in the sport.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Kraft Field renovations, with a goal of $500,000, to address a wide variety of upgrades.
Kraft Field is the home field for both Grand Forks Central and Red River high school teams, as well as the Grand Forks Royals and Grand Forks Blues American Legion programs.
"In the end, it all comes down to us doing this for the kids," said Matt Palmiscno, head coach of the Blues and one of the GoFundMe organizers. "We want the future of Grand Forks to play in the best park in the state and love coming to the field every day. When we look around the rest of the state, kids in other towns have the pleasure of doing just that so why can't we do it for our kids? It's going to be a lot of work but if others are able to do it, why can't we do the same?"
Mandan was the latest North Dakota Class A town to upgrade its ballpark, unveiling a $2.5 million upgrade this summer for Veteran's Memorial Ballpark.
In Bismarck, Municipal Ballpark added a 2,500-square feet deck this summer.
In Fargo, Post 400 has a brand new home at Starion Field, which was recently equipped with a grandstand, concessions and a clubhouse. A turf infield was also installed.
Dickinson approved $600,000 in upgrades to Southside Ballpark in 2016, while Minot installed new turf in 2017 at Corbett Field.
Jamestown put in new batting cages at Jack Brown Stadium in 2018 -- a year after $300,000 in new dugouts.
Kraft Field's last major upgrade was in 2011 when turf was installed on the infield thanks to a partnership between the Park District and UND. In 2016, UND cut its baseball program, which played home games in the park.
"I feel like I've heard there have been conversations among different people for quite some time but someone just had to get the ball rolling and after seeing the recent field renovation in Mandan, it was time to kick-start this," Palmiscno said. "Having already been a very nice field to go to, they have gone over the top with their project and did a fantastic job. There's a great foundation for us to work with but it just isn't an attractive place for people to want to watch a game."
The fundraiser website lists the areas of need at Kraft as clubhouses, dugouts, a grandstand, bullpens, batting cages, concession area and turfing of the entire surface.
"A grandstand with shade is a must," Palmiscno said. "For anyone who has tried to watch a game up there during the middle of the summer, it's nearly impossible to do."
The Kraft Field fundraising page was posted Sunday. As of Tuesday afternoon, the page was shared 236 times on Facebook and 35 people have combined to raise $6,651.
"It's tough to see all of the kids who still play youth baseball and think that when they get old enough, the only place they'll have to play is lagging way behind every other park they will travel to," Palmiscno said. "There are enough baseball people out there who can work together and get this done. We set the bar high knowing that it may be tough to raise that much but we also wanted to let people know how many things we need help renovating."