FDCSD announces renovation project for iconic Dodger Stadium

When Fort Dodge Community School District Superintendent Josh Porter sees Dodger Stadium, he thinks of home.

Porter played, graduated, coached and served as an administrator in the venerable facility, widely considered to be among the very best in the state of Iowa. It stood as the center of activity in his formative years, and still does to this day as a father of three.

Porter recognizes his personal investment in the complex is one many Fort Dodge residents share. There is an emotional attachment, based in a blend of nostalgia from the past and pride in the present.

Professionally speaking, Porter and fellow FDCSD leaders are also ready to address Dodger Stadium’s future. The school board formally introduced a $4.87 million renovation plan this week, which will include upgraded locker rooms, concessions, restrooms, parking and a remodeled entrance area.

“It goes without saying that Dodger Stadium is one of our community’s most valuable resources for a multitude of reasons,” Porter said. “This is an extremely important project that addresses some long-overdue issues, and it will improve the overall experience for student-athletes, coaches, fans and community members, whether you’re a Fort Dodge Dodger, a St. Edmond Gael or an Iowa Central Triton.

“This will be a significant upgrade to the facility without compromising its integrity, which is something we all of course want to maintain. If you’ve been to Dodger Stadium, you know that the items on our priority list here have been part of an on-going discussion for years, if not longer. Given (the complex) is approaching 100 years old and a lot of (the current resources) are original to the (1939 design), we came to the (collective conclusion) that it’s time to move past the conceptual stage.”

The project will begin immediately with asbestos removal. The plan, weather permitting, is to have everything completed by May of 2025, though Porter added, “we’re not in a hurry. We want everything to be done right.”

“Speaking as both a superintendent and former athletic and activities director, this is really addressing three major needs: added and better parking options; handicap accessibility; and security and safety. We wanted to make sure the focus starts with those checkpoints and branches out from there.

“This is a big deal, because we’re talking about the first major remodel of Dodger Stadium in its history. A lot of people use it, and a lot of eyes will be on it. We respect that and will make sure it’s done right — not just for football, but for all of the sports and activities that use the facility. We share Dodger Stadium as a community, and know full well how much it means to past, present and future Fort Dodge residents.”

Kolacia Construction of Fort Dodge landed the project with a bid that came in nearly $1 million under the engineer’s original estimate. Jensen Builders Ltd. of Fort Dodge, Woodruff Construction of Fort Dodge, and Sande Construction & Supply of Humboldt submitted the other bids.

“They were all close and competitive, and we really appreciate as a district how much these local companies wanted to be involved for all the right reasons,” Porter said. “We want to specifically thank them, because this wasn’t just about business — they all had a personal stake in this project, so to speak.”

In addition to new locker rooms and restrooms, there will be designated offices for both trainers and officials. There will also be a separate female-only locker room, and an expanded concessions area will include state-of-the-art heating and cooling. Fiber lines will branch to all areas of the stadium, with upgraded lighting, cameras and an enhanced security system put into place.

The FDCSD will use funds from the physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) and revenue accrued from the state sales tax to complete the project.

“Thankfully, we are in very good financial shape as a district,” Porter said. “This is something we have prioritized and saved for, knowing it has been on the horizon for quite some time. We will be able to pay for this in its entirety without losing steam on other projects around the district.”

Porter is excited to see the impact this renovation will have on the overall Dodger Stadium experience.

“When you think about it, given (the venue) brings Dodgers, Gaels, Tritons and opposing schools together for activities like football, soccer, track, band and so many other events, this will really be something our community will both enjoy and benefit from,” Porter said. “We host games, matches and events for people from all over not just Iowa, but the midwest. I think we’re truly getting the best of both worlds by modernizing Dodger Stadium while making it much more functional by taking care of both wants and needs.

“So many of us care about Dodger Stadium. I think our community will really rally around what we’re doing here and share in the excitement of what it’s going to become (upon completion).”


Dodger Stadium was built in 1939 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) plan.

The venue officially opened for competition on Oct. 4, 1940. Total project cost was $150,000.

Workers took 385,000 bricks from the old Fort Dodge junior high building on the corner of 1st Ave. North and N. 10th St. for the outside-wall structure. Although 60,000 bricks were added to complete the structure, most of the orginal pieces — now over 120 years old — are still a part of the framework today.

O.C. Pfaff, then president of the Fort Dodge board of education, was the point person for the project. Pfaff kept a low profile and shied away from taking credit.

Fort Dodge had formerly played its home football contests at Duncombe Field, next to Duncombe Elementary School.

The baseball field at Dodger Stadium — designed by former Major League hitting coach Lew Fonseca — opened for play in 1943. The plan to install tennis courts, a skating rink, a badminton court and a volleyball court to the grounds never came to light; only tennis fit into the property’s long-term plans.

The bleachers combine to hold approximately 5,000 people, and are equal in size and stature.


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