American Legion takes over PdC baseball park
By Caitlin Bittner
Next year, the old committee in charge of the St. Feriole Island Ballpark will step down and members of Prairie du Chien’s American Legion will take over.
“We thought it would be best,” said committee member Bill Wessling. “They’ll bring new energy, new ideas and a fresh face.”
Since 2005, a group of volunteers that was headed by Wessling, Rick Boylen, Kevin Mulrooney, Gary Koch, Gary Knickerbocker, Dale Klemme, Bruce Elvert, Tim Baxter and Prairie du Chien’s City Council, has been in charge of the park and all its changes and developments. “There’s also been a lot of help from the community. [Its] total support has been wonderful,” added Wessling.
In 1999, the ballpark was nothing but an idea inside Wessling’s head; however, a drive around town with Rick Boylen changed that. “It was a really hot day in July when Rick called me up and asked if I was free to look at locations for a new [ball]park,” said Wessling.
Within minutes, Boylen had picked Wessling up and the search began. “After awhile we drove to the Island and saw the property that offered what we were looking for,” Wessling added.
After the planning stages had finished, Wessling said, the community dove into making the new ballpark a reality. “The area endorsed the idea and it was just overwhelming,”remarked Wessling.
Ever since its planning stages, the park has been built, maintained and run with volunteer support. “It’s amazing how many people don’t know that,” Wessling commented.
What’s in store for the ballpark’s future? According to Wessling—a lot of changes. “We want groups working to make changes to benefit not just the park, but the whole community.”
One of the things Wessling looks forward to seeing get an update would be the operations or aesthetics. “The aesthetics are important because it’s the first thing people see when they come over from Iowa.”
Hosting over 300 summer games this year and last, something Wessling knows will stay the same is the facility’s first class reputation. “Teams from all over the area—Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota—come to play here and they have positive experiences,” explained Wessling.
Because the ballpark’s operation was managed as a 501(c)3 organization, revenue for the park is only what is brought in at the park itself. “The funding consists of what is made at the concession stand, from the field sign ads and the league fees,” said Wessling.
For now, Wessling said that he is proud of how far the ballpark has come over the past couple of years. “It’s wonderful to see people down there. I couldn’t be more thrilled; it’s what the park is for,” Wessling noted.