Rapid City Post 22 head coach Kelvin Torve received a nice first-week-of-spring training-present Monday night from the Rapid City Council.
The city council voted on and announced that Black Hills Sports Inc. will now receive the full $5 million that it first sought for the renovation of historic Fitzgerald Stadium, $3.8 million of which will come from the city's Capital Improvement Fund.
A month ago, Black Hills Sports Inc. was awarded $2.3 million of Vision Fund money.
A former Hardhat and Major Leaguer, now in his second year at the helm, Torve calls it a blessing for his players and a blessing for the baseball fans of Rapid City.
In reality, the present wasn't for him, but for the baseball community.
"Post 22 is one of the best programs in the upper Midwest, whether we got a new stadium or not," he said. "It is something that more people will enjoy, going to the ballpark. I think it will open more opportunities for us to host the national regional tournament, and now we can bid on the American Legion World Series."
Torve said they would have done all they could have with the $2.3 million, but they wouldn't have completed everything that needs to be done on the stadium.
"I was so gratified by the city council and the mayor to come up with the extra money so we could get this done at one time," he said.
Likely, without the added money at this time, there would be no artificial turf, which Torve said would have limited the usability of the field.
The plan is to begin construction this fall and have the field ready for use by the 2020 season.
"I know the time frame is going to be tight. If we can't, then it will be two years down the road before we can be playing on a new Fitzgerald Stadium diamond," Torve said.
Sioux Falls was recently awarded the Central Plains Regional Tournament for 2019 and 2020. It had been in North Dakota the past six years, including the last couple of years in Dickinson
Post 22 will be aggressive in its bid to get the tournament, but depending on when the facility is completed will predicate what regional tournament they go after.
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In the meantime, spring training is here for the Hardhats.
As of Thursday Torve said they have spent two days on offense and two days on defense — with the defensive workouts in the Fitzgerald Stadium parking lot.
At least they are outside.
"The weather has been nice enough to get outside, but it will be a few days before we can get on the field," Torve said. "There is still snow in right field, the grass is wet and goose droppings are everywhere."
Still, he said they are getting done what they need to get done. Despite what has seemed like a never-ending winter, this beginning of spring training isn't any different than in the past.
"We have 60 guys in the program and the indoor facility is tight, but we do what we can do, and I think we are pretty efficient with what we can do," he said.
The defending state champions who have 42 titles to their credit, will scrimmage the South Dakota School of Mines club team on April 13 before opening the season on May 1 in Gillette, Wyoming, against the Roughriders.
The Hardhats open their home slate May 15 against Gillette.
Torve is excited, not only for the future of Fitzgerald Stadium, but because it is now baseball season.
"I enjoy working with our young men. They are great young men and it is nice to be doing baseball stuff again," he said. "As far as how good we are going to be, I don't know. We lost a lot from last year, but our players work hard and they understand what it means to be a Post 22 player."
There are a couple of coaching changes for Post 22 this season, with Jason Herz returning to the program to coach the Bullets and Ty Daly moving from the Bullets to coach the junior varsity Expos.
Luke Ferdinand will be an assistant with the Bullets and Jake Ferdinand the assistant for the Expos.
"We're all Post 22 guys and we understand what it means to be a Hardhat," Torve said. "Our older guys understand it, so its the guys in the first or second year in the program that we still need to educate and mentor them."