Weather delays mean The Miracle League of Dubuque won’t have a full season this fall as planned, but work on the all-inclusive ballfield and playground still should be completed before year’s end.
A crowd of about 100 people joked amid raindrops in late April during the groundbreaking ceremony for the project at Veterans Memorial Park, but regular precipitation continued in the coming weeks. Work wasn’t able to begin in earnest until mid-May, according to league board President Merle Santjer.
Even with the delay, project organizers hoped that construction would be completed in time for a fall season of team play. Those hopes have faded.
“As far as a structured, formal league, no (that is no longer likely),” Santjer said Monday. “But we are planning on an exhibition game. If we can, maybe more exhibition games. If the weather cooperates, we would take advantage of it.”
The bones of the facility are clearly visible.
Concrete pads are in place for the Miracle League ball diamond as well as the all-inclusive playground. Those are linked to the future drop-off site for vans with chair lifts near a path.
Crews are preparing to pour a platform for a 12-foot statue of The Miracle League’s national mascot, Homer, a ballplayer with a ball for his head.
Lights are up, as are frames for the dugout and press box shades.
The site’s building, which will house public, accessible restrooms, a quiet room and more, has walls and the frame of a roof.
“One of the things we want to wait on, too, is for the new facility there to be operational, at least the public restrooms,” said Dubuque Recreation Division Manager Dan Kroger. “But the project is going well. People are going to be surprised, I think, at how large of a space there’s going to be for the all-inclusive playground.”
Equipment for the playground sits wrapped at the site.
Santjer said the next big step will be the application of at least 2 to 3 inches of rubberized material to the surface of both the playground and the ballfield.
“When all is said and done, you’re walking on a marshmallow,” he said.
But crews are waiting for a break in precipitation once again.
“Conditions have to be good to get a bond between the material and the cement,” Santjer said. “Moisture and humidity are not good.”
If all goes according to plan, crews want to start applying the rubberized material by next week, ahead of a planned full-facility completion date of Oct. 15.
This work is being done on the former site of Field 1. That field now is flipped and moved down the hill next to Field 2 to give The Miracle League what Santjer called the “preferred” flat space with the best drainage possible.
Once construction is completed, the organization and city will need to recruit volunteers to serve as umpires, coaches, announcers and what are called “buddies,” “champions” or “angels” — people who partner with players during games.
“Every one of the kids, be they in a chair or a walker, needs somebody with them for safety,” Santjer said.
The project was made possible through more than $3 million in donations by 543 individual donors, at Santjer’s last count. He said the project always could use more donations for some final touches on the facility.
“It’s the details that are going to make it,” he said.
Donations can be sent to Miracle League of Dubuque’s headquarters, 2728 Asbury Road, No. 300, Dubuque, IA 52001 or made at www.miracleleagueofdubuque.org.