In 2019, Bismarck Parks & Recreation District moved forward with a goal to expand Cottonwood Park to include eight new softball diamonds for the community. With a growing community as well as growing softball needs, specifically girls fast pitch softball, there was an imminent need for increased capacity.
Bismarck Parks and Recreation District already owned land adjacent to the existing softball diamonds in Cottonwood Park, so a capital campaign was started with a goal to move the community complex from 12 diamonds to 20. Steve Chuppe and Mike Wolff were approached and quickly took on roles as co-chairs for the campaign.
As a co-chair, Chuppe knew the importance of the expansion for Bismarck-Mandan. “We did not have enough fields for softball fields in general, certainly with the girls fast pitch softball program. With our population growing, even in the county, our facilities just need to be ahead of that. It was a very easy step to say ‘We need this.’ It wasn’t a want in my mind, it was a need. We wanted to have a place for our kids to play ball, keeping kids active, keeping them fulfilled, keeping them off the streets. We should keep them busy so they don’t fill their time with other things unhealthy and nonproductive. It was also a quality of life issue. We want to provide a good quality of life with the amenities we have to offer. That helps people come back to the community,” expresses Chuppe.
Chuppe believes he was approached as he had started getting involved with softball several years ago when his daughter said she wanted to play fast pitch softball and that she wanted him to coach her youth team. “I found I really enjoyed it a lot. I started coaching both baseball and fast pitch softball. It was really fun for me. I had also been involved with the Bismarck Baseball Boosters for many years and getting the Municipal Ballpark renovated. I had been involved with that capital campaign. Then it came up that we were in need of a softball complex, as we (fast pitch girls softball) had been moved place to place and never really had a true home to go to,” mentions Chuppe. He says one thing lead to another and he just kept getting more involved with fast pitch softball. “The natural step was for us to get involved especially since I had experience with it before. I was asked to co-chair the capital campaign with Mike Wolff. I was very thankful to be able to do that. It was an honor to be asked. It was a privilege to work with the community, with Bismarck Parks and Recreation and their staff to go out to try to raise funds for the project.”
The 2019 expansion project was met with open arms by many members of the local community, both individuals and businesses, one of which was Dakota Community Bank & Trust (DCB&T). Chuppe states that based on the previous generosity and hospitality from the Municipal Ballpark, DCB&T was approached early on in the campaign efforts. “When we had gone to meet with Dakota Community Bank & Trust, Dale and the bank very generously stepped forward right away with both the Municipal Ballpark and Cottonwood Ballpark. The main reason we asked Dakota Community Bank & Trust right away is because they were so generous previously. Thankfully they jumped at that,” recalls Chuppe.
Bismarck Parks & Recreation Executive Director Randy Bina adds, “Another project that Dale and the whole crew at Dakota Community Bank & Trust worked on was when we looked at expanding softball field opportunities down at Cottonwood Park. We had the land and there was a need for more adult fields as well as girls fast pitch softball fields. Dakota Community Bank claimed the lead gift, and the complex will be named after them.”
“Dakota Community Bank & Trust is pretty well encompassed by the name. They are truly a community bank. I appreciate how willing and happy Dakota Community Bank & Trust was to step forward and take sponsorship opportunities for both the municipal ballpark and the fast pitch softball complex. It was a big commitment that Dakota Community made to the community for both of those projects,” closes Chuppe.
Through the efforts of the capital campaign, $1.8 million was raised from the public, which equated to 42% of the total project cost. “The level of support we have truly shows our community is incredible. We had so many gifts from $100 up to $150,000. How many people it took to make 1.8 million happen is really cool. It was really rewarding,” maintains Chuppe.
The newly expanded facility will be complete with eight new diamonds in the complex, four of which are youth and four of which are adult. Additional growth includes new scoreboards, four covered dugouts, a pressbox and grandstand with seating for 252, additional parking and green space, concessions, two playgrounds, two picnic shelters, and more!
Though the complex is not yet completed, Bismarck Parks & Recreation District is hoping to have it available to be played on this next summer by McQuade Softball Tournament time, weather dependent. Bismarck Parks & Recreation District wants to ensure that the fields are ready to go and are in pristine condition prior to play. If the grass has not had enough time to grow and mature, the fields will not be played on until the following spring.
Bina states that the complex is about 85-90% done with some seating and landscaping work left to do. He paralleled Chuppe’s comments that summer play depends on how the grass grows this spring. “It will really be a popular place for our community, but it is really about the girls. Girls youth fast pitch players have really been bounced from one facility to another so it will be nice to have one that they can say is their home,” says Bina. Both the co-chairs of the campaign as well as Bismarck Parks & Recreation District disclose that they would not have been able to complete this project without the wonderful support of those in the community. Many business and individuals contributed and helped to make this community project a reality. Once a flat piece of farm land along south 12th Street in Bismarck, now you will find a 200 plus acre complex full of activity and play options.
Written by Lindsey Hefta, Marketing Director