J. Carver Distillery plans innovative fundraiser to help raise grandstand


By Todd Moen
July 28, 2014 at 8:00 am

An innovative approach to fundraising being spearheaded by Bill Miller of the J. Carver Distillery in Waconia could help give the Waconia Baseball Association (WBA) grandstand project at Lions Field the financial push it needs to get off the ground yet this fall — and help other community efforts in the future.

As detailed in previous editions of the Waconia Patriot, the WBA project proposes a new grandstand at Lions Field that would serve up to 450 fans with amenities including a concession stand, ADA compliant restrooms, and a new press box. Seating would include Metrodome seats, bleacher-style seating, and plaza patio areas.

According to Duane Sawyer of the WBA, the “dream vision” of this project would cost about $600,000. At this time, however, a somewhat scaled back “phase one” version of the project is being considered, a version that costs approximately $462,000. The WBA’s share is $350,000 and it has already raised about $225,000 ($125,000 from the Waconia Lions Club; $100,000 from the WBA itself).

The Waconia City Council has indicated support for the project — including funding for the ADA compliant restrooms ($84,000) and having the city provide fill and trucking worth approximately $31,000 for a total of $115,000 — but has stipulated that all funding must be in place before the project starts.

At this point, a gap of about $125,000 still needs to be filled by the WBA before phase one can start. As a result, “the big push is on now to fund this so the project can start this fall,” said Kyle Berger of the WBA.

Enter the inaugural J. Carver Distillery “Golf With A Purpose” event.

The fundraiser starts at 1 p.m. and will be held at Island View Golf Club in Waconia on Monday, Aug. 18. In an effort to maximize donations to the grandstand project, all costs related to golf, food and drinks will be covered by sponsors J. Carver Distillery, Lola’s Lakehouse, Ridgeview Medical Center, and the Schiffler family, meaning the entire cost to participate ($250 per golfer) will be used to support the grandstand project.

“The uniqueness of this event is that those sponsors are paying for all of the golf, beverages, and food at the event,” Berger explained. “Every dollar participants put into the event, in addition to being 100 percent tax deductible, will go towards the raise the grandstand project.”

“There won’t be any silent auctions, games or activities,” Miller added. “The focus will be writing a check to help raise the grandstand project off of the ground.”

The goal is to attract 36 to 40 foursomes and about two dozen foursomes have already signed up.

“We think we can raise $30,000 to $50,000 through this event, which would make a pretty good dent in the amount that still needs to be raised for the grandstand,” said Miller, noting the possibility of some participants feeling inclined to donate more than $250, considering the event doesn’t include any side fundraisers.

Although golfing will certainly be fun, Miller said the golf aspect is simply the means to get people together to rally around the cause.

“It’s not so much a big golf thing … the focus is on fundraising for the project,” Miller said. “After golf, we’ll have some have refreshments and a brief presentation about what was achieved, and have it done in time for people to get home before 7 p.m. so they can watch their kid’s ballgame that night.”

Miller is optimistic that the J. Carver Distillery “Golf With A Purpose” event can make a difference, and not just for the WBA this year, but for other community efforts in future years.

“I want this to be successful because I want to do this again (and have it serve as the) impetus for other groups to try to get something done,” he said. “If it works, it ought to be repeatable and reliable. We hope to get involved in other big, one-time projects. The grandstand is exactly the kind of thing we were hoping to support, something that’s meaningful and a welcome addition to the community. We want to help get something done in a big, significant way. Whatever we do, we want to make it impactful.”

Berger said success with an event like the J. Carver Distillery “Golf With A Purpose” event can help erase the stigmas that can come with larger fundraising efforts like the grandstand project, which would benefit not just local baseball fans but also the teams that use Lions Field on a regular basis, including the Waconia Lakers, Waconia Islanders, American Legion Baseball, and the Waconia Wildcats.

Sawyer noted that the WBA continues to work at closing the funding gap on the project.

He was pleased to report that the grandstand project recently received endorsement from the Foundation for Minnesota Baseball, a charitable non-profit foundation that’s “committed to the advance and support of the game and sport of baseball as a positive force for good in our communities.”

Part of the foundation’s mission is to assist and support programs throughout Minnesota that are challenged with funding needs for maintenance or improvement of their baseball facilities. According to Sawyer, the foundation is looking at how it might become further involved with the grandstand project.

In the meantime, organizers of the J. Carver Distillery “Golf With A Purpose” event invite anyone interested in raising the grandstand to consider taking part in the event or sending a donation to the cause.

“It’s going to be a fun event,” Berger said. “People can support the project by enjoying a day of golf and having some great food while helping raise the grandstand.”

• To register or for more information about the J. Carver Distillery “Golf With A Purpose” event on Aug. 18, send an email to rsvplease@embarqmail.com. For more information on the grandstand project or the WBA, visit waconiabaseball.com.


Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com