Chaska/Waconia grab 2021 state bid, Faribault/Dundas get 2022 bid

By Nick Gerhardt

ScoreMonster Contributor

The Minnesota Baseball Association Board of Directors decided it’s time for Faribault to host a state tournament.

Faribault and co-host Dundas were awarded the 2022 state tournament while Chaska and Waconia received the 2021 state tournament Saturday at the MBA Board of Directors meeting. It will be the first time since 1978 Faribault has hosted a state tournament and it will be the first time for Waconia. Both have a lot of expectations ahead of them.

The long layoff between the last time Faribault and Dundas hosted a state tournament played a role in the decision, board members said. Dundas last hosted a state tournament in 2003 and of the teams that put bids in, that was the second-longest time between state tournaments, excluding Waconia.

Cold Spring and Watkins, and Brownton and Glencoe were the other teams who presented their bid for the state tournament to the board at the East Side VFW in St. Cloud.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Faribault manager Charlie Lechtenberg said.

Lechtenberg and the Lakers submitted a bid two years ago for the state tournament but lost out. The ballpark, Bell Field, wasn’t up to compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act at that time but has since come into compliance through a series of upgrades.

The city approved $233,000 of work last year to help get the park into compliance. Other upgrades have included work to the mound and aesthetic work to the grandstand. And plenty of other work is planned, especially now that Faribault in on the hook to deliver the state tournament.

New Prague will become the first Dakota-Rice-Scott League team to host the state tournament this August, though Shakopee, which has the Coyotes who play in the DRS, hosted in 2008. But Shakopee also has the Indians who have been around longer than the Coyotes. Three DRS teams reached the final eight at last year’s state tournament in Green Isle, Hamburg and Norwood.

The Dukes have been a mainstay at the Class B state tournament but it’ll be nearly 20 years since they’ve hosted a state tournament when it returns to “The Town of Baseball” in 2022.

“I’m just thrilled,” said Dundas co-manager Mike Ludwig. “We’ve worked really hard the last five years to showcase what our community has to offer.”

The Dukes led a $100,000 capital campaign in 2015 to fund renovations at Memorial Park. Those upgrades included an overhaul of the grandstand where the team installed stadium seats and poured new concrete to replace an aged timber grandstand. Memorial Park has served as a host for high school baseball playoffs the last three years.

Waconia Lions Field

Waconia Baseball Association board member Tim “Jonesy” Hukriede said Waconia was kind of the new kid on the block when it comes to the state tournament bidding process but what Waconia has in its back pocket is a $1.4 million grandstand that just opened in 2017.

“It’s just kind of a dream come true,” Hukriede said. “Now we know the pressure is on. All of us want to show off our park.”

But he and the rest of the Waconia baseball community are ready. Hukriede said the field will host 100 games this summer, including the Gopher Classic.

“You don’t do that without a strong organization,” he said.

Waconia is on the rise as a baseball community with the high school team claiming last year’s Class 3A state title with a 26-0 record. The community has around 1,000 kids participating in Little League, Hukriede said.

Chaska Athletic Park

Chaska is no stranger to hosting state tournaments. It has served as a host for the high school state tournament for many years, not to mention the previous MBA state tournaments. But the last time the community held an MBA state tournament came in 2008 when it co-hosted with Shakopee.

Cold Spring and Watkins hosted the state tournament together back in 2015 while Glencoe and Brownton hosted the 2011 state tournament. Brownton also served as an emergency site during the 2016 state tournament.

Delano and Maple Lake will co-host the 2019 state tournament while New Ulm will host the 2020 state tournament.

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