The Hatten Stadium Foundation board can move forward with Phase I of their renovation plans for the historic landmark thanks in large part to a $15,000 donation from the Lions Club of New London. Several Foundation board members received a check from the club at their August meeting.
New London Lions representative Roger Steingraber said that the club listened to a presentation from the Foundation well over a year ago. “We talked it over and thought it was an admirable endeavor, but asked that they return when they had solidified their plan, and they did. At that point we saw that we could make a difference for them in Phase I.”
The Lions Club works hard each year holding fundraising events that benefit the community in the long run. “We like to make New London a better place to live and work,” said Steingraber. “That stadium is a treasure. I recall many teams coming to play there in the past and being completely awed at the sight of it. Our club was unanimous in support of this project.”
“This means we’ll be starting Phase I this fall,” said foundation member Chad Hoerth, who is also the Parks and Recreation director for the city. Phase 1 involves renovating the infield. “We’ll start by stripping off the sod around the infield, installing new irrigation, laying down new infield mixture and crowning the field properly for better drainage,” explained Hoerth. Terry Dorschner of Dorschner Excavating is donating time for this portion of the project.
“We’ve been playing either in mud or dust for many years now,” said Mike Frederick, president of the Foundation and a native of New London. Frederick has played ball at the stadium since his youth. “After watering down the field for a game, it would dry out really fast, or if we had rain, the water would sit at the top of the soil and not drain properly.” Now there will be a sand-silt-clay mixture that allows proper drainage into the existing tile and catch basins.
“We needed $30,000 to get us over the threshold for Phase I,” said Hoerth. “This gift from the Lions really means we can get started now, and we couldn’t be happier.” Over the past year and a half, the foundation has received private donations, but has also worked hard at various events to raise the money. “We took over the concessions at the Irish Fest tent last year and will do so again this year. Plus we’ll be working at the Farm Technology Days next summer,” reported Mike Hermsen, another Foundation member.
At the Fall Family Fest last weekend, the Foundation kicked off a paver drive, where individuals, businesses or organizations could purchase a brick paver that will be engraved with their name and installed in the courtyard in front of the stadium. This will be an ongoing effort. To buy a paver, contact New London Parks and Recreation Department at 920-982-8521 or Mike Hermsen 538-1001, Jim Binder 2550-2515, or Pete Thorpe 539-0295.
Phase I includes renovating the playing field and lighting. Future phases are also planned for new spectator seating, restrooms and a concession stand, all of which will be handicap accessible. Hoerth explained that the foundation made a big point to plan a spectator venue which could be enjoyed by all, especially by those with mobility challenges.
“There will be other opportunities to help out coming up,” said Hoerth, who explained that other fundraisers are in the works. “We’ll take this one phase at a time.”