$250,000 CHALLENGE GRANT ISSUED FOR NEW RUSHVILLE BALL DIAMOND

Posted 6 months ago

By John Axtell

Rushville - Modisett field east side

The Rushville community has embarked on a major financial challenge: raising $100,000 in donations by March 1st to match a $250,000 grant from the Carmen and John Gottschalk Foundation to replace the badly-aging Modisett Ball Park on the west side of Rushville.

Mayor Chris Heiser admits the fund drive and overall project are tough undertakings, but he’s confident of success and that the resulting new complex will be well worth all the effort.

CLICK ON LEFT SIDE OF BLACK BAR FOR AUDIO

Built in 1939 and touted for decades as the best ballpark in Western Nebraska, the grandstand-concession building

John Gottschalk, Chris Heiser - photo courtesy of Sheridan County Journal-Star

John Gottschalk, Chris Heiser – photo courtesy of Sheridan County Journal-Star

had become an eyesore with structural problems that mean it can no longer be used

Heiser, co-owner of Sides and Milburn Ford, says two ladies in the community called the ballpark problems to his attention last year and led to a project to at least give the complex a fresh coat of paint to improve its appearance.

That’s when John Gottschalk, a Rushville native and the retired publisher of the Omaha World-Herald, came into the picture.

Before coming out, Gottschalk mention the project to a friend, George Little…CEO of HDR Architecture, the company that designed TD Ameritrade Park, the new home of the College World Series.

Gottschalk said he would need a “young architect” for the Rushville project, but Little insisted he talk to Bruce Carpenter…the TD Ameritrade lead architect…who immediately told Gottschalk in no uncertain terms that HE was the one taking the project.

Rushville - Modisett field bleachers        A few hours later, before Gottschalk could start to make arrangements for an engineer, former HDR CEO Richard Bell strode into his office and told a bemused Gottschalk that HE was doing the engineering and that he and Carpenter were working for free.

Heiser says work on developing the project moved ahead out of the public eye until earlier this month when a public meeting was held and Gottschalk issued his $100,000 challenge.

So confident are Heiser and Gottschalk of meeting the $100,000 challenge goal that the project is scheduled to go to bid next week, even though the fundraising is still just starting.

The new grandstand with press box will have weatherproof bleachers, ADA access and a seating capacity of 450 with optional bleacher extensions raising capacity to 1,000. Concessions, storage, and restrooms will be under the grandstand.

The field itself will get new below-grade dugouts, new bullpens, new batting cage, and a rebuilt infield with proper drainage and state-of-the-art materials. There will also be a new grandstand, new lights, and an underground sprinkler system.

Donations can be sent to: Rushville City Hall, PO Box 99, Rushville NE 69360. Gifts made to the foundation are tax deductible, with Gottschalk promising recognition of some type for all gifts, regardless of size, a donor recognition plaque for those over $5,000 and on-site recognition of gifts of $20,000 or more.

The flyer designed by HDR Architecture can be viewed at the Sheridan County Journal Star newspaper’s web site www.sheridancountyjournalstar.net along with the paper’s online article about the project.