Construction, baseball happening simultaneously this spring

Apr. 9—JAMESTOWN — Construction season has never seemed to inconvenience baseball season in Jamestown.

Until this year.

After two years of fundraising and drawing up construction plans, the McElroy Park field renovations are officially underway.

"The facilities that we've had have needed updating and some changes and this is a great opportunity to do that," Jamestown High School activities director Jim Roaldson said. "With the weather in North Dakota and our limited seasons, the season that you have to work on the fields just so happens to be the season that we need the fields to play and practice. There's really no good time. In this case, everyone just decided to rip off the Band-Aid and make it work."

The athletes, coaches, opponents and administrators have done a pretty good job of making the necessary adjustments thus far. Between the Blue Jay and University of Jamestown programs, 91 athletes are playing competitive baseball this spring.

"Right now where we are at as far as the high school, the large majority of our time practicing will not be at that facility," Roaldson said. "Jack Brown usage will be very limited based on the University of Jamestown's games and our varsity and JV games."

Of the Blue Jays' 11 games on the schedule, only four are scheduled to be held at Jack Brown Stadium. The Jays' first game at home is scheduled for April 12 against Minot. The doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. The JV squad is also slated to be in action on Friday beginning at 1 p.m.

"We're just going to have to alter for this spring," Roaldson said. "(The kids) are going to have to miss a little bit of school because of it but there are only a few dates where that happens. Our kids perform well in the classroom and they'll continue to do that. You hate to not have them in school but it's just one of those years where we will have to make some concessions and figure and know that hopefully in the end, there's something that will help everyone out later on."

The first phase of construction is at the former Al Boelke complex. In the past, the fields at Al Boelke have acted as practice fields and junior varsity game fields.

The first phase of the renovations consists of two feature fields, both with turf infields, Gould Field, a Babe Ruth field and a Cal Ripken/fastpitch softball field. A parking lot, concessions and restrooms building with a paved patio area are also on the list of construction projects.

Phase one construction is slated to be completed by fall of 2024.

The Jays' practices have not been held at Jack Brown. Instead, head coach Jack Bowman along with his assistants, Tim Ranum and Sam Joseph, have been utilizing the space at Jerry Meyer Arena and Erstad Field on the JHS campus. Other skill work has been conducted at Heil Field and in the bubble at Two Rivers Activity Center.

As for the college, the Jimmies have been utilizing the newly constructed Nelson Family Bubble and the Larson Center for most of their practices.

"While nothing replaces being outside and being on a baseball field, we're very lucky to have what we have," UJ head baseball coach Tom Hager said. "Our community is blessed that we have the ability to be productive in a lot of different ways with the game of baseball. It's going to be some give and take but we're definitely going to make it work."

While the Jimmies have the space to conduct successful practices indoors, Hager did say that when other teams are not utilizing Jack Brown, the Jimmies will likely use the field to do some skill work that is hard to replicate anywhere other than a baseball field.

"It is going to be a challenge over the next couple of months for all baseball programs in Jamestown because of these field renovations but at the end of the day, we all need to remember that this project will benefit everyone in the long run," Hager said. "I think everybody is pretty excited about the improvements that are going to be made. They've been a long time coming. Whether it's high school, Legion or college, we're all going to reap the benefits.

"I think the key is just constant communication every day," he said. "We need to make sure that we are communicating and we're working together on a daily basis to get through the next few months."

The Jimmies' first home game of the season was played on April 6. Despite the limited field space, the Jimmies are slated to have an entire home schedule this spring.

"We are going to be playing a lot of games in the next month or so," Hager said. "We'll have to use a combination of what we have on campus and what we have available down at Jack Brown Stadium for practices."

The Jimmies' regular season is scheduled to run through the end of April while the Blue Jays will be in session until late May depending on their regular season performance. The JAYBAL and American Legion programs will then pick up in late May and early June.

"Hopefully as the summer gets going, things will progress and start taking shape," Roaldson said. "I believe they are doing some things with one of the softball fields that will allow for a little bit of infield work with kids at the lower levels that will help, but we'll all have to see what our limitations are as the construction project goes and work together to make it work."