Breaking ground on Willmar’s future

The city of Willmar held its groundbreaking ceremony June 30 for the combined $16 million projects at the Willmar Civic Center.

Co-chair of the Recreation Fields subcommittee Tony Amon speaks Wednesday, June 30, 2021, during the groundbreaking ceremony to commence construction of the events center and recreation fields projects at the Willmar Civic Center. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — Moving forward with two of the largest Invest in the Willmar Local Option Sales Tax projects , the city of Willmar held its groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, June 30, at the Willmar Civic Center.

“When you have events like this, you really need to sit back and reflect on the people that made it happen,” Willmar Mayor Marv Calvin said.

The recreation fields project is budgeted for $6 million with the recreation and event center budgeted for $10 million.

“For over two years, our committee has spent countless hours researching, planning, designing and redesigning a rec and event center that we really believe will be an incredible asset to this community based on the needs brought forth by the Invest in Willmar committee and the community at large,” Gretchen Otness, chair of the Recreation and Events Center Subcommittee, said.


The fields project will include the construction of two artificial turf fields on the north side of the Civic Center and a four-field softball/baseball complex on the south side.

The approved alternates to the field project will add field lights to the turf fields, batting cages at the softball fields and upgrade the dugouts for the championship field in the softball/baseball complex.

The 25,000-square-foot recreation and events center facility with two large courts also has a kitchen area, indoor playground area, meeting rooms, dressing rooms and an updated and expanded lobby.

The approved alternates are a community room, wall partitions in the meeting room and dry floor area, additional basketball hoops, bleachers, landscaping and paving.

The Willmar City Council approved the construction of the new athletic fields and recreation center in May after concerns were raised over the sales tax revenue constraints and paying for the proposed budget.

The Invest in Willmar Local Option Sales Tax approved by voters went into effect on Oct. 1, 2019. The city will use $16 million in bonding funds to pay for the construction of the projects. The debt from those bonds will be paid using revenue from the 13-year sales tax.

Co-chair of the Recreation Fields subcommittee, Tony Amon, thanked the “citizens of Willmar for believing” in their vision of leaving a “lasting legacy for generations to come.”


“We wanted to show our young people that their hometown values them and wants them to work and raise their families here,” said Amon.

Staff Writer Shelby Lindrud contributed to this article.

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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