Although some naming rights are still up for grabs via donations, the new Morris Community Softball Complex will be ready to play on by spring 2021.
“I have been promised that Emma will play on it in the spring,” head fundraising coordinator Robi Bowman said of her daughter, who is a senior on the Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta softball team.
The complex is being built where the University of Minnesota Morris softball fields are currently and will be used for UMN Morris softball, high school softball and summer softball leagues and camps.
“The Morris Community Softball Complex is another example of our community seeing a need and working together to fill that need,” Morris Area Community Education Directory Tony Reimers said.
The complex is a two-phase project. The first phase includes two softball fields while the second phase, which funds are still being raised for, is a third field, parking lot and a larger, green space.
“Thanks to the support from many community businesses and individuals, we were able to begin construction this summer on Phase I. Phase I, which includes both new fields and the press box and concession stand, is anticipated to be completed by Spring 2021, we hope in time for softball! We are still seeking private giving support particularly for Phase II. Phase II includes a third field, parking lot, and practice field,” University of Minnesota Morris Development Officer Erin Christensen said.
The Morris Community Softball Complex project, which will cost around $1.4 million when it’s all said and done, is a three-way venture between the University of Minnesota Morris, the City of Morris and the Morris Area School District. Each entity contributed $150,000. The remaining $950,000 comes from community support through fundraising efforts.
“The remainder of the funding is to come from private donations,” Christiensen said.
Tiger softball, which has seen more success in the recent past as far as wins and losses and conference championships, will now have a comparable complex to Tiger baseball, which sees upgrades to Chizek Field almost every summer.
“The Morris Baseball Association has done a tremendous job of updating and constantly improving our local baseball facilities. As a member of the Morris Area Fastpitch Association, we are excited to bring that same energy and vision to this new softball complex. For many years, coach Holmberg has created a softball program of excellence, I believe this complex will create a facility that matches that desire for excellence,” Reimers said.
“This will be a fantastic new facility, which will meet the needs of our MACA athletes from junior high to varsity teams. It also will provide great fields for our elementary, junior high and high school summer league teams,” Tiger softball coach Mary Holmberg said. “These fields will be a wonderful college facility for UMM and will provide them the opportunity to host games, tournaments, fall leagues and camps. The entire community will benefit from this facility March through October. The days of putting up portable fences, moving bases and pitching mounds are over. Softball players will have their own fastpitch field for play and practice.”
It’s no doubt that Morris/C-A and UMN Morris athletes will benefit greatly from this new complex, but the community as a whole will benefit as well.“In Fall 2020, Morris Area Community Education hosted both a Fall Baseball League and a Fall Softball League. These leagues provided opportunities for not only Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta athletes but athletes from Hancock, Benson, Minnewaska, LQPV, Montevideo and Willmar. These events are important for athletes and families. They are also helpful for our local businesses and economy,” Reimers said.