KALISPELL - Cold temperatures and heavy rain couldn’t damper the spirit of baseball lovers in Flathead County Tuesday night as the Glacier Range Riders played their inaugural home game at Flathead Field.
The Range Riders are the newest member of the Pioneer League and were forced to play the first few weeks of the season on the road due to ongoing ballpark construction.
“I got a season ticket, so I’m raring to go!” baseball fan Doug Gilbertson told MTN News.
Baseball fans of all ages gathered at the ballpark to catch a first glance at the hometown team.
“I never thought it would ever come to pass,” added Gilbertson.
Gilbertson has loved the game of baseball his entire life, he can’t believe he has a team to root for in his own backyard.
“We’ve got a lot of legion ball, little league, but this is the first pro game so I’m loving it,” said Gilbertson.
Flathead Range Riders General Manager Erik Moore said the stadium is still a work in progress but fully functional and ready to go for games.
“But things will be continuing to come online, we have suites that will be coming online here as well in the next month, we have a bar and restaurant that’s planned to come to fruition maybe after the season’s over, but we’re pretty happy with where we are right now,” said Moore.
Kalispell resident Kevin Mincheff grew up playing baseball and was thrilled to bring his young children to their first ever ball game.
“Just the environment, hearing the crack of the bat, hearing everyone roar, the camaraderie is just everything with everyone,” said Mincheff.
Flathead Field showcases a nearly 1,000-square-foot HD video wall, a synthetic field, LED lighting, and scenic views of the Flathead Valley.
“As you can see our facility is unlike anything you’ve seen here in Montana, we’re pretty proud of it and very excited to have opening night here, finally,” said Moore.
Gilbertson said he lives and breathes baseball having coached his kid's little league teams for more than 10 years.
Now he’s ready to be a full-time fan.
“Just watching the ball game and seeing the guys do well, there’s some guys that really do some exceptional things and it’s great, it’s good to see them do that,” said Gilbertson.
Fans will have plenty of chances to catch a ball game as the first homestand continues through June 23.