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Our View: Ballpark upgrade will benefit city (with video)

3:47 PM, Apr. 19, 2013  |  Comments
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Wausau families have enjoyed baseball games at Athletic Park on the city's north side for more than three-quarters of a century, since the park's original wooden grandstand and still-standing stone wall were built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

This week, we got confirmation that the club will continue to be a tremendous community asset for years and decades to come.

Mark Macdonald, owner of the Wisconsin Woodchucks, on Tuesday announced a plan to spend $2.7 million on renovations to the city-owned ball diamond that will remake its grandstand and create luxury suites and premium seats next year, with other additions such as new bleachers and concession stands to follow in three to five years. This is a big deal and an important civic contribution.

The Woodchucks are a tremendous community asset: a place to take in a ballgame on a summer evening; a cheap and wholesome activity for families; a lovely, historic field and an opportunity to glimpse future big-league stars on their way up.

The park recently had a round of renovations that improved its functioning and brought it within certain health and safety codes. But the renovations proposed by Macdonald will be massively more extensive and, judging by the artist's renderings of the completed project, will have a dramatic effect.

Maybe as important as the ballpark renovations was the announcement that Macdonald would donate to the city two properties next to the stadium and $20,000 cash to build a new neighborhood park there. And we love Macdonald's idea that the remodel could help draw other events such as outdoor concerts or baseball tournaments to the site.

Taken together, the ballpark renovations, the creation of a new city park and some city improvements including better street lighting will serve to extend the revitalization of central Wausau north of Bridge Street.

Development tends to beget development. The fact that the renovated Athletic Park will be even more a destination and a city landmark than before will improve the quality of the surrounding neighborhood. In this way, it's of value to more than just baseball fans. It's going to improve quality of life throughout the city.

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Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports