Oxford Realty pledges $500,000 for Apollo naming rights, funds marked for Grand Forks' Kraft Field makeover
Oxford Realty naming rights of Apollo Sports Complex, along with a federal grant, the Blue Line Club and other fundraising efforts, will go toward a rebuild of Grand Forks' primary baseball field.
GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks' primary baseball field is headed toward a total makeover.
Oxford Realty, a Grand Forks real estate agency, plans to pledge $500,000 for the naming rights of Apollo Sports Complex, with funds marked for a significant Kraft Field renovation.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, the park district received a letter of intent for $500,000 from Oxford Realty to rename Apollo Sports Complex. The park district and Oxford Realty will now work on a formal contract, to be considered by the park board at its next meeting.
"I feel great about it," Oxford Realty broker Mike Opp said. "I grew up playing baseball there, and I love baseball. I have a passion for it. I think it's a great way for us and our agents to give back to the community and get our name out there."
Grand Forks baseball supporter Aaron Dunphy approached Opp about the opportunity.
"It happened fast," Opp said. "(Dunphy) is a good, personal friend. When he asked me, I knew right away it was right."
Apollo Sports Complex, near Grand Forks Red River High School, is a five-diamond youth baseball and softball complex adjacent to Kraft Field, which is the home to Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River baseball, as well as the Grand Forks Royals American Legion program, among others.
The $500,000 will be added to a growing fund for Kraft Field.
Earlier this year, the North Dakota Parks & Recreation Department awarded the Grand Forks Park District a $605,412 grant, per the American Rescue Plan Act, for Kraft Field grandstand renovations.
"We've been talking about the grandstand at Kraft for a number of years and tried pre-COVID to talk about fundraising but COVID put it on the back-burner a bit," said Grand Forks Park District Executive Director George Hellyer, who started in his new role last June. "This is a very exciting project."
With the $600,000-plus federal grant, the park district will match that figure with its own dollars to start the Kraft Field fund at $1.2 million.
The Oxford Realty naming rights, as well as a $150,000 contribution from the Blue Line Club, and a few other fundraising efforts have grown the project significantly beyond the grant and park district match.
The Blue Line Club is a charitable gaming organization that supports youth athletics in Grand Forks.
"The park district will be able to invest in our baseball community and make some amazing improvements to Kraft Field and Apollo Sports Complex, thanks to the generous state grants and two major gifts from local organizations we have received," Hellyer said.
Fundraising efforts continue, as well, with sponsorship opportunities for different elements of rebuilt Kraft Field.
Hellyer, who was the park district's superintendent of finance for 12 years before taking over the top job, said the next step in the process is for the park district is to put out a request for proposal for architects in a December-January timeframe.
Hellyer said the park district plans to tear down Kraft Field's aging grandstand, which also houses bathrooms, a club house, the press box and a concession stand.
From there, the details of the rebuild will be fine-tuned in the RFP process.
The park district is aiming to start construction in 2023.
The park district has also received a grant to place artificial turf on Montgomery Field, also known as Apollo Park Diamond 4. The park district hopes that project is ready for the 2023 baseball season. In addition to the grant, the park district received a $100,000 commitment from the Blue Line Club for this project.
At Tuesday's Park Board meeting, the board's commissioners accepted the Montgomery Field bid of $664,264.99 from Mid America Sports Construction for installing field turf.
The park district, via the same federal grant process as the Kraft Field grant, received $185,912 for tennis court repairs of the seating area at Register Courts near Century Elementary School.