City honors police captain, requests Twins help for construction costs

Published 8:33 pm Sunday, January 14, 2018

For future improvements at Joe O’Brien Field to take place, city officials are looking to receive confirmation from one Major League Baseball organization before moving forward with plans.

Members of City Council met Thursday evening inside Council Chambers for their first meeting of the new year and are looking at moving forward with renovations at the park, but are asking the Minnesota Twins to put some “skin in the game” for a requested $1.7 million clubhouse at the home of their Elizabethton-based minor league affiliate.

City Council voted to approve a professional contract with Tom Weems, the architect that has worked both parties on improvements, worth $113,45. The contract would be reduced by nearly $30,000 from a donation by local businessman Richard Barker.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

But the approval didn’t come without a couple of stipulations.

Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander made the motion that Council approve Weems’ contract, contingent of written support from Minnesota to contribute funding for renovations.

According to the mayor, the estimated total cost for a new clubhouse at Joe O’Brien, as recommended by the Twins, is pegged at roughly $1.7 million. One issue of concern, according to the mayor, has been Minnesota’s reluctance to confirm any monetary contributions for renovations above minor league standards. One addition brought up was the design of a weight room at the potential new clubhouse, which isn’t necessary according to MiLB standards.

Alexander went back to the fact that the city has $1.5 million available for overall work at the Joe O’Brien Field, which will be split into different categories, including $1 million for a new clubhouse, $250,000 going to fan amenities and the remaining amount going to other necessary improvements at the site.

Having the funding available for different intangibles, including fan amenities, will only help with potentially bringing in a sports management firm to help run the operation of a minor league team, Alexander said.

Over the months, the mayor added that Dave St. Peter, Minnesota Twins president, has stated “we are not at that point yet” each time the city has asked the organization about contributing funds for renovations.

“I think we are at that point now,” Alexander said.

Having the confirmation will be important for future development at Joe O’Brien, Alexander said, adding the city wants to have a clear answer before spending money on a significant project.

With a full quorum, Council voting unanimously to approve the contract pending confirmation from Minnesota.


City officials opened the day by recognized Art Smithdeal with the Elizabethton Police Department. EPD Chief Jason Shaw and Alexander honored Smithdeal for 42 years of service at the department following his recent retirement from the force.