Lincoln Park project complete with ribbon cutting, open house

Jerry and Denise Beard enjoy the view from the Lincoln Park Tower Hospitality Level during at the first party for the facility. Anode Systems Company rented the room for a customer appreciation open house on the Wednesday evening.

Grand Junction mayor Bill Pitts cuts the ribbon Wednesday for the Lincoln Park Tower.

A little girl from the Challenger baseball program for special-needs children won the hearts of thousands of baseball fans last summer when she handed Jamie Hamilton a check to help build the Lincoln Park Tower.

“A young lady in a wheelchair gave back their $2,000 sponsorship check and was telling us, ‘If you build it, more will come,’ ‘’ Hamilton said Wednesday just before the ceremonial ribbon was cut to open the $8.3 million improvement project at the Lincoln Park Sports Complex.

“I’m so excited to have this to take care of them (with the ADA-approved wheelchair access level). We took a picture of that young lady and started showing it around to contractors. One of the first ones was Skyline Contracting, and they gave us a $5,000 commitment. Those are the types of things that get done here.”

Hamilton, the chairman of the Grand Junction Baseball Committee, spearheaded the project, which was completed one month ahead of the May 20 promise date.

To make the project affordable in the recession, the design was scaled back and FCI Constructors decreased its cost by several million dollars.

“They came back with a fee decrease because they wanted to be part of this,” Hamilton said. “I knew right then if people had that much passion and wanted to give back, this project was going to be successful.”

Companies donated time and services and people wrote personal checks, simply because they were longtime JUCO or sports fans and wanted to help out.

A 25-year extension with the NJCAA to host the Junior College World Series provided the financial security to pay for the project.

El Pomar, the Boettcher Foundation and the Grand Junction Lions Club were major contributors. The Parks Improvement Advisory Board — JUCO, School District 51, Colorado Mesa University, the City of Grand Junction and Mesa County — quickly got on board.

Local sub-contractors were put to work, with 87 percent of the work done by local companies.

“It was our own little stimulus plan,” Hamilton said. “Almost 95 percent of those sub-contractors had attended a JUCO game in the last 55 years.”

The Tower itself is 80 feet high, starting with the concourse level, where fans will enter the stadium and get their refreshments. The second level is a mezzanine that is ADA compliant, where fans in wheelchairs or with special needs can watch a game.

Above that is the press level, with state-of-the-art technology, with a hospitality level on the top floor.

It didn’t take long for people to check out the “skyboxes.” Hans Schmoldt of Anode Systems rented the top floor Wednesday evening for an open house for his clients.

That level has been reserved every night during JUCO, and groups can rent it out year-round by contacting the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department.

The public will get its chance to see every level of the Tower on May 23, when JUCO hosts an open house from noon-2 p.m. Fans can have a free hot dog and soft drink and tour the facility.

“It is their facility,” Hamilton said. “If they do come to a baseball game, that’s great. If they come to their grandson’s graduation, they had a part in it because they bought a JUCO ticket at one time.”

New restrooms, dugouts and stadium seating in the first-base section are more changes fans will notice.

Hamilton couldn’t help but smile when he heard high school baseball players say they were so excited to play even one game at Suplizio Field this season that they couldn’t sleep the night before. Getting the seniors on the field was a goal from the start of the project last June.

“Probably can’t describe it in words,” Colorado Mesa Athletic Director Butch Miller said. “It’s that big.

“It gets us recruits on both sides. The football coaches had recruits in on attendance night and took them upstairs and they were texting, ‘You gotta see this!’ It’s unbelievable for us.”

District 51 Athletic Director Paul Cain said it was worth juggling schedules, especially seeing the faces of the players last week.

“This is the gem, not just in Grand Junction but the whole Western Slope, in athletics,” Cain said. “It’s nice football is benefiting from this as well as baseball. It’s a win-win for us.

“I’m so thankful on our end that everybody played at home that last week. It worked out perfect.”

JUCO Rankings: Iowa Western Community College remained a unanimous No. 1 in the NJCAA Division I baseball poll released Wednesday.

The Reivers, who won the 2010 JUCO World Series, are 51-4 and host the Region 11 tournament this weekend.

Salt Lake Community College (40-6) moved up three spots to No. 2, with Central Alabama (40-11) ranked third.

Fourth-ranked Polk State College (45-10) won the Gulf District title in Florida on Monday to qualify for JUCO.


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