With an outfield fence that was at least 15 years old, antiquated bleachers in poor condition and flag poles covered in rust, VFW Field in Creston had deteriorated from its once pristine condition.
But, through the efforts of several locals and the Creston Parks and Recreation Board, the field is being returned to its former glory thanks to several upgrades and renovations.
“We just decided it was time to make that a major project and do something with it,” Parks and Recreation Board Member Gary Borcherding said.
Borcherding said Ron Pendegraft and Craig Blazek initially took it upon themselves to refurbish the ball field several years ago. Now, the Parks and Recreation Board has made it a priority.
VFW Field has a rich history in Creston. The field was built after the end of World War II and was originally named World War II Memorial Field.
It has been used by men, women, boys and girls for both baseball and softball. VFW Field was the home field of the 1967 Boys Little League state championship team and was also the original home of the Creston High School softball program.
It’s that history, along with the fact there are more and more traveling baseball and softball teams today, that made the board want to restore the field.
“This would make a great field for them to use for tournaments,” Borcherding said. “Everybody, every kid in Creston played there at one time or another. It’s one thing that everybody relates to.”
Funding for the renovation of the field has come from several sources. Creston CWC Inc. donated $7,000 to the project and an Endow Union County grant provided $12,000. In addition, the 1967 Boys Little League state championship team provided a donation.
Additional funds have come from private donations and selling signage on the outfield fence. Anyone interested in contributing or purchasing outfield fence signage may contact Borcherding at 641-782-4527. Signs are 4 feet by 8 feet and a five-year lease on outfield fence space is $250.
The main section of the new bleachers have already been installed. New flag poles have arrived, but with the area behind the outfield fence holding so much water, the flag poles have not been installed yet.
The new outfield fence will be installed in the spring. Additionally, the Iowa Cubs will laser level and resurface the infield in the spring, while re-pinning the field so all the bases are in the correct places and the field is square.
“In the future, we would like to do two more smaller sections of bleachers off on the wings of what is currently there,” Borcherding said. “We’d like to add water. There’s no water at that facility, so we’d like to add that so we can water the field and possibly have a water fountain in the future.”
Another potential project is adding a cover on the bleachers to create shade for spectators. Borcherding also plans to rebuild the old VFW sign that used to rise above the center field fence, as well as rebuild a wooden scoreboard in left field.
Other projects that could be added in the future include a restroom facility and a concession stand, but Borcherding said those projects cost a lot of money and wouldn’t happen until much further down the line.
“We just want to preserve the history of the field, because there are a lot of people in town that it means a lot to. Hopefully we can bring back some of the history that has happened there over the years,” Borcherding said. “Pretty much, what we can do at this time, we hope to have done before the first games are played next spring. We’d have had a lot more done this fall if the weather hadn’t got us.”