Monday , June 20, 2016 - 5:45 AM
Lindquist Field is entering its 20th season of Ogden Raptors baseball. This story is part of a series highlighting the people and events that make the ballpark’s history.
OGDEN — As far as the record shows, there is not a stadium in the world named Coors Light Field — but in an alternate universe, it might have been the ballpark the Ogden Raptors call home.
What Ogdenites have always known as Lindquist Field, the baseball park square in the heart of downtown Ogden, will see the first pitch of its 20th Raptors season thrown Monday night. Despite involvement by the team’s part-owner, mortuary businessman and philanthropist John E. Lindquist, the name of the stadium wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
Before shovels were in the ground to construct Lindquist Field, which opened for business in June 1997, team president Dave Baggott was searching for a naming rights sponsor.
“We had a design for Lindquist Field,” Baggott said, “but it was determined a naming rights sponsor had to be identified first before construction could begin.”
LINDQUIST FIELD 20TH SEASON
Baggott had an idea and a few people he knew at Coors Brewing Company were top of mind. In 1995, the fledgling Colorado Rockies moved into Coors Field, a new, state-of-the-art stadium and what was then the gem of Major League Baseball.
“Some people refer to the mountain region here at the ballpark, and the way the ballpark looks, some consider it a miniature Coors Field,” he said.
Baggott said he reflected on Ogden’s new stadium being less filling than Coors Field — you know, like a light beer — and the idea for Coors Light Field began to take shape.
Coors received his idea well enough to merit a meeting in Golden, Colorado, where Baggott would make a full pitch to the brewing company.
“Upon informing the city administration about the meeting, it was immediately nixed,” Baggott said. “The city did not desire to have an alcoholic beverage on the front of the building. So we chalked it up to ‘nice try’ and you move on, because we wouldn’t want the city to be uncomfortable with anything we were trying to do.”
There were no sour grapes about the decision, he said. “It was a far-fetched concept that I got so far as to have a meeting ... so we honored the mayor’s wishes and chose to do something else,” he said.
Still, a naming rights donation was not only desired, but necessary.
Lindquist chaired the fundraising committee for the stadium’s construction and, with his own early contribution in hand, saw two philanthropic families interested in naming rights eventually step away from the project.
“We were trying to raise between $1 million and $1.5 million for naming rights, but we were also having some trouble with interference by some people who were against the stadium being built,” Lindquist said.
As part-owner of the team, Lindquist said he reached a point where he simply wanted to see the deal done.
“I decided it was time. So I called the mayor, it was mayor (Glenn) Mecham at the time, and told him I was going to be the naming rights donor,” he said, pledging $1.2 million to the city-owned stadium.
After some back and forth, he said Baggott helped the city arrive at the name Lindquist Field, affixing the Lindquist family name to the heart of the city.
“The name Lindquist means a lot to me, because it’s also the name of probably the dearest friend I have in my life,” Baggott said. “John E. Lindquist being a part of it all — that’s when things really started to take off and without him, the stadium probably wouldn’t have happened.”
Lindquist said he is still pleased to be part of the stadium and the Raptors franchise, which both he and Baggott characterized as part of Ogden’s entertainment hub where people and families can find clean fun and professional baseball.
“I’m very proud that it’s there,” Lindquist said. “But it’s a community landmark, not ours. It just happens to have our name on it.”
Reporter Mark Shenefelt contributed to this story.
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