--by Jason Kuerschner, Cologne Baseball Association Board Member
There have been many changes to Robert G. Fritz Memorial Field in Cologne over the past 10-plus years. During that time the Cologne Baseball Association (Hollanders) and the City of Cologne have worked together on different projects.
It all started with the electronic scoreboard in 2005. That led to the eventual replacement of the outfield fence, from chain link to wood. The City of Cologne put $10,000 towards this project, with the Hollander players suppling the labor and some additional funding.
From there, the grandstand and concession stand were addressed. In the grandstand there were a pair of additions: a press box and the installation of permanent seats. These seats were leftover seats from old Milwaukee County Stadium, by way of the Apple Valley, MN community. Then came the expansion of the concession stand, which doubled its size.
This brings us to the most recent and most expensive upgrade to the park: lights. This is where the City of Cologne stepped in again monetarily, as both entities committed to a 50/50 partnership to secure the lights. While the City of Cologne paid for everything up front, the Baseball Association is committed to pay back the city their portion of the costs. I am proud to report that the Hollanders have one final payment remaining, in January 2017.
Now for the most recent project at Fritz Field … dugouts! The current dugouts – while functional – are beginning to show their age, lack of size and safety features. This year the club and the City have added a partner to this project – and that partner is the Minnesota Twins by way of the Twins Community Fund!
The Baseball Association and the City of Cologne are very excited to announce that the Twins Community Fund has awarded our community a $10,000 grant for the purposes of replacing the dugouts and other concrete work at Robert G. Fritz Memorial Field. With this grant and other donations of labor and money, the project is expected to increase the size of the dugouts and add safety features and storage space, which will make the dugouts better for the numerous youth programs that have come to love to play in Cologne.
The club expects to start this project in August of 2016 after the various seasons have concluded and we have an opportunity to not conflict with game schedules. Upon completion it is the intention of the Hollanders to have a recognition/celebration at the first Friday night game in May 2017, with the Twins’ organization and all those involved in the project to be recognized. As many of you may know, that first Friday night home Hollander game has become an annual tradition of shooting off fireworks at game’s end to kick off the new season of baseball in Cologne.