WASECA, Minn. -- It was a day that Tink Larson wasn't certain would ever come.After a grueling 16-month process, enough money was raised to build a new grandstand at Tink Larson Field in Waseca, Minn. The Twins were the first to get involved in the $1.9 million project by contributing
WASECA, Minn. -- It was a day that Tink Larson wasn't certain would ever come.
After a grueling 16-month process, enough money was raised to build a new grandstand at Tink Larson Field in Waseca, Minn. The Twins were the first to get involved in the $1.9 million project by contributing $100,000. Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony signaled the start of the project.
"Everyone is excited, now that the project has moved forward like it has," Larson said. "We certainly are indebted to the Minnesota Twins, for sure. They got the ball rolling."
Larson, whom the field is named after, has coached high school and amateur baseball teams in the Waseca area for more than 50 years. He won a state high school championship in 1990, and still helps out with the Waseca High School team, in addition to volunteering at Minnesota State University.
But Larson can still vividly remember April 6, 2016, when he get a call about the fire department making its way to the field. The previous grandstand, which had been built in 1939, had been destroyed by arson.
"I looked out the window, and the place was in flames," Larson said. "Immediately, I thought, 'There goes 50 years of effort and memories down the drain.' I was actually a mess, to tell you the honest truth. Seems for like all the tough ballgames I was in, you'd thought I handled those OK, but this was a very sad moment."
The project was delayed last fall due to flooding. Suddenly, it became difficult to find the funds to build a new grandstand.
However, that's when Twins president Dave St. Peter helped jumpstart the fundraising. At a meeting back in January, Peter agreed to donate $100,000, as well as seats, 100 of which will be from the old Metrodome and 100 more from Target Field.
The Minnesota Vikings chipped in $50,000, while the Super Bowl Host Committee donated $50,000 as well. And as a result, seven months later, the building process has started. It is expected to be completed by the 2018 season.
"This project, in my mind, is important," St. Peter said. "I think it symbolizes baseball in all kinds of communities across the Midwest. You see ballparks like this bring the community together. I think it's absolutely critical, maybe more so than any sport, to have these gems within our community."
The Twins understand the importance of Tink Larson Field better than most.
First baseman Joe Mauer is among the several professional baseball players to play on the field as a child. Mauer actually admitted to Larson that he was first discovered at Tink Larson Field during a trial camp.
"That's something we can be proud of, Mauer was pretty much discovered at this field," Waseca mayor Roy Srp said.
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.