Bismarck Municipal Ballpark is adding a popular summertime feature.
Construction of a deck along the right field line will be ready to debut for the Bismarck Larks 2019 season later this month. The Northwoods League team and Bismarck Parks and Recreation District teamed to make the project happen. Construction began this week.
The Northwoods League also pitched in toward the $93,000 cost through its charitable foundation.
The 2,500-square feet deck does not add any new seats, but does make for better sight lines in the popular Fireside Tailgate Area. The deck will have a seating capacity of 200. It will make for easier viewing for individuals with disabilities and their families. The Larks will donate four seats each game to an organization that assists individuals with disabilities and their families.
"We're committed to this community and we're committed to this ballpark," said Larks general manager John Bollinger. "More than anything, this came out of the crazy growth and popularity of the team.
"This community has been great to us. We want to invest back into the ballpark and continue to make the experience for our fans the best we possibly can."
The tailgating area has been as much a social gathering area as it has been for watching the game, although with the deck option, seeing the action will be easier.
"We did get some funny comments, not negative, from folks in the tailgating area not being able to see the game that well," Bollinger said. "This will give those fans a much better view of the game."
The Larks' third season begins May 28. The team won the North Division's first half championship in 2018, earning its first postseason appearance.
"We're pumped. It's just 20 days away," Bollinger said of the season. "We have a lot of new things planned. We're excited to get people into the ballpark and start having fun."
Bollinger and BPRD already are in discussions about potential significant upgrades to the ballpark in coming seasons, but there are other new tweaks on tap for 2019. The YMCA Family Fun Zone will be enhanced by the addition of new speakers. Additionally, the Laughing Sun Lounge will have new 45-inch TVs, allowing for viewing of the game.
Also, protective netting has been added on both the right- and left-field lines.
"When parents are watching their kids in the bounce house, they'll still be able to watch the game now," Bollinger said.
Single game tickets went on sale on Monday. The Larks open the season against the Eau Claire Express on Tuesday, May 28 at 7:35 p.m. The day before, the Larks are hosting a Community Day, sponsored by Dakota Community Bank and Trust, featuring free food, a home run derby by Larks players, activities for kids and door prizes. The event runs from 12-4 p.m.