Improvements in Worthington’s sporting infrastructure can’t come fast enough for me, and from talking to other sports fans in this city it’s clear that there is much agreement on the subject.
It’s been a tough year for baseball rooters. The Minnesota West college field has gone unused due to drainage issues that still have us scratching our heads. The only usable field for college, high school, amateur, Legion and Junior Legion games has, of course, been the facility next to the middle school. And throughout the summer, it has only barely been playable at all due to the hard, uneven condition of the infield.
If you were one of the unfortunate ones who had to man third base this year, you must consider yourself lucky to have made a good play on a bouncing ball. Most of the time, you should have been defending yourself, instead, from all the crazy caroms.
We’d heard that at some time this summer, the parking lot next to the field would be paved. It took a severe pounding early in the spring, and the deep, muddy ruts left by heavy rains even at this moment are not completely smoothed over. No relief this year, though, because the bids were considered too high.
This week I spoke to the promoters who brought auto racing back to the Nobles County Speedway. We talked about the lack of drivers and fans in 2019. Certainly, the condition of the grandstand is less an issue than some of the others the promoters face. But I wouldn’t want to sit on one of the seating planks for fear of falling through.
I went back-and-forth about writing this column at all. I don’t want to cast blame, and I don’t want to say anything that would cause one of the city’s big-wigs to accuse me of being unfair -- or worse yet, of being ignorant of the problems (both economic and logistical) facing this town in respect to upgrading facilities.
And, believe me, I’m as excited as anyone (perhaps more than most, actually) at the new Worthington Learning Center and gymnastics building being built on the west side of town. Happy, too, that the ice arena received new seating in time for last winter’s season, and that pickleball players have very nice courts with a new windbreak.
I’m aware, of course, of other projects being planned, too, including major upgrades to Trojan Field where football and soccer is played.
But we still have a ways to go, and it’s getting harder and harder to remain patient. Worthington is a great town. It gets criticized often enough for its lack of a bowling alley and a movie theater, and for various other perceived shortfalls, but I sincerely wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in this world. It’s the people who make Worthington great, and the people of this town deserve more.
I look forward to the day (I hope I’m still around when it happens; if it happens) that we have a baseball complex comparable to some of the other wonderful parks in villages with smaller populations. Really, a city this size should have a more inviting field than it does today.
It needs an improved scoreboard keyboard, too. Nobody can get the buttons to work right on that thing.
And the press box? Don’t even get me started about the press box. Suffice to say, I’ve built better structures in my backyard when I was 9 years old putting pieces of old wood together with rusty nails.
And since we’re talking about press boxes here, I sure do hope that the people overhauling Trojan Field don’t forget about the press boxes straddling the football field. They’re bad, they’re rickety. And they’re not roomy enough.
During the football season, we’ve rarely been able to squeeze a reporter in a press box because all the space is taken up by play-by-play announcers and coaches. I know we’re just lowly newspaper reporters here, but these are “press boxes” we’re talking about. “Press” boxes.
I must confess: There have been times this summer that I wondered whether there is enough town pride in Worthington to get the powers-that-be to address some of these things. I apologize for that. That’s too simplistic an attitude.
But let’s go, Worthington. Let’s hit it out for the home team.