Rochester handicapped-accessible baseball field needs community help ahead of season

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 5:23 AM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Some baseball players with disabilities in Rochester’s Miracle League may not be able to play ball this season because their field needs to be fixed, and they are asking for the community’s help.

Miracle Field was first constructed in 2006, and it’s part of the Watson Sports Complex on 1000 Essex Pkwy Northwest in Rochester.

It’s a baseball field that’s not made up of grass and dirt, but rather, a barrier-free, smooth, hard surface so players in wheelchairs and other special abilities can run and play ball safely without tripping.

Over the years, the field has seen wear and tear and now, it’s unsafe to play on and needs to be resurfaced. The goal is to replace the current surface with a durable, rubberized material.

The league board said it will cost $200,000 to resurface the field. The season is supposed to begin on July 10 and without a new field, it won’t be able start. The fundraiser has raised a little more than $79,000, sitting at about 49% of the funds needed.

“If you come out here July through August, you will see people having fun, you will see the bleachers packed,” Miracle Field President Laurie Brownell said. “After we came back last season, you could really see the cracks. We were just holding our breaths, hoping no one would trip. The barrier-free field isn’t barrier-free anymore.”

The league is made up of 12 teams, with people of all ages. Many of the players said playing baseball is something they look forward to every summer, and they feel sad about the possibility that it may not happen this year.

“Having the field done would mean a lot to us,” player Paul Burke said. “Because we don’t get the same opportunities like other people.”

“I have different limitations, and it would be easier for me to play on this field,” player Aaron Songstad said. “With other fields, I can trip easily.”

Player Adam Simmons has been in the league for more than five years. He said his favorite part is seeing his friends and hitting the ball.

“I hope we can hit the ball soon,” Simmons said.

Bart Hanson’s 12-year-old son Sawyer has been playing in the league for eight years.

“I just think everybody needs community and friends,” Hanson said. “I think that can be a little trickier for people with special needs. He’s been able to make friends and have that community. It’s something we look forward to every week during the summer.”

Part of the improvement project also includes replacing some fencing and the sign for the field.

If you’re interested in making a donation, visit The Miracle Field website.

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