Efforts are underway to rebuild the Sapa-Johnsrud baseball stadium after a fire ravaged the youth complex in Columbia Falls last year.
The youth baseball organization that oversees the Glacier Babe Ruth program is trying to raise enough money to replace the bleachers. The latest bid to rebuild the bleachers was $276,000, according to Glacier Babe Ruth President Ray Queen.
The organization is kicking off a new fundraising campaign to try to raise funds. On Feb. 17, Eisinger Motors is writing the group a check for $10,000, which will put the total raised at $104,000, Queen said.
Urgency is a factor. Sign-ups are underway for the 13- to 15-year-old baseball program. The deadline to sign up is March 1.
Glacier Babe Ruth is hosting the state tournament for all three age groups this year. The 13-year-old, 14-year-old and 13-to-15-year-old state tournaments are scheduled to be in Columbia Falls July 11-16.
The youth program is trying to pick up the pieces after a fire last June destroyed the grandstand at Sapa-Johnsrud Memorial Field. An investigation indicated that the blaze originated in a nearby grass field and was started by fireworks. The bleachers, built in 1989 with the capacity to hold a few hundred people, were a total loss while the baseball field and dugouts avoided damages.
Glacier Babe Ruth started in 1981 as Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Bigfork formed one of the best Babe Ruth programs in the state. In its third year of existence, the 15U Glacier Babe Ruth team appeared in the 1983 World Series in Frederick, Maryland. Two years ago, the 15U all-stars won the regional championship and advanced to the Babe Ruth World Series. The 13U team advanced to the World Series in 2014.
To support the new fundraising campaign, Glacier Bank has an account called the “Columbia Falls Baseball Stadium Account.” Or contact Queen at 253-0857 or visit GlacierBabeRuth.com