Fundraising in a league of its own [UPDATED]Published 9:20am Tuesday, February 12, 2013 Updated 11:22am Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The grandstands at Al Krueger Field have been a landmark in Perham for more than 70 years. Yet when age and deterioration took its toll, an amazing effort was launched to raise money and rebuild the stadium in a matter of months.
“The structure was old and had become unsafe we had to do something about it,” said City Manager Kelcey Klemm.
In December of 2011, a structural engineer deemed the grandstands unsafe, and the structure was ultimately demolished in March 2012. Meanwhile, a ground swell of support was brewing. A committee representing the City of Perham, Perham Schools, Perham Athletic Association, and other community members soon formed to create a plan to replace the iconic structure.
“I really credit Fred Sailer for putting together a group and raising more than $350,000 in a matter of months,” said Klemm.
Sailer, who is the activities director for the Perham school district said that $354,000 was pledged over a period of just over six months against a construction budget of $345,000.
“I played baseball here and coached here,” said Sailer, adding that the park has sentimental value for him a lot of people in the community who quickly jumped on the fundraising bandwagon. “The city kicked in the first $20,000, and guaranteed the pledges we collected, which will be collected over three years.”
The committee also recruited Perham High School grads Al Stigman and Bucky Burgau as honorary chairmen. Stigman was a MVP and outstanding pitcher for the Perham town baseball team, and Burgau coaches baseball at Concordia College.
The field was re-dedicated to the community on the Fourth of July as Tuffy’s Stadium at Al Krueger Field. The name pays tribute to major donor KLN Family brands and Kenny, Kim and Charlie Nelson in honor of Kenny’s dad Tuffy, while still respecting the past efforts of Al Krueger to establish the original stadium. Across the field, the state-of-the-art scoreboard honors another major donor, Arvig.
“Once KLN, Arvig and Otter Tail Power were on-board, we had faith the project would be a success,” said Sailer, acknowledging that construction started before all the funds were committed. “Otter Tail Power came in and did all the underground work to get the lights up, and a lot of other companies donated services. If we didn’t have labor donations, the project cost would have been at least $450,000.”
Additional major contributors that pledged money or services included JC Electric, Curtis Brothers Masonry, the Hendrickson family, United Community Bank, BHH Partners, Herzog Roofing, Shane Hendrickson (construction manager) and Hammer’s Construction. But there were many more that made donations.
“One lady came up to me after a meeting and handed me $20,” said Sailer, emphasizing the special memories that the park has for people, and that they gave what they could.
A few projects are still underway for the refurbished sports complex. Architect Tony Stoll was at the park Thursday with Fred Sailer pointing out a few details.
“Sandford Health is donating equipment and labor for a wheel chair lift to access the grandstand,” said Stoll, who added that color scheme of the project was Wrigley red and Fenway green. “The support beams are the same shape as the previous grandstand to remind people of the old structure.”
Even viewing the park in its snow covered state, it is apparent to see the community has hit a home run with Tuffy’s Stadium at Krueger Field, funding and rebuilding the facilities in record time.
“It’s a terrific structure, something the community can be proud of and it will stand the test of time,” said Klemm.