As Washington County grew in population, the athletic facilities for its youth were not able to keep up with demand. By the early 1990’s, there was a significant gap between the need for recreational playing fields and what was available. A group of representatives from the Valley Athletic Association and the Saint Croix Soccer Club came together with the intention to develop safe and high quality soccer and baseball fields for the youth of Washington County.
In 1997, these groups approached Belwin inquiring about the availability of land suitable for a complex of athletic fields. Belwin had recently purchased an 80 acre parcel of property adjacent to Interstate 94 and Hudson Road and determined this land would be appropriate for this purpose. Subsequently, the groups developed an agreement for development and management of a 50 acre facility on this site.
After a successful fundraising effort and acquiring of necessary permits, construction began on the eight soccer and four baseball fields in the spring of 1999. These fields were designed so that the outfields of the baseball fields and several soccer fields can be converted to use for football teams. The facility opened in the fall of 2000.
The Lucy Winton Bell complex has been described as one of the highest quality sports facilities available in the metro area. The athletic fields host over 70,000 visits a year, consisting of primarily children and their families from 16 Washington County communities. The site also hosts numerous tournaments bringing in young athletes from other areas.
Starting in the spring of 2011, the day-to-day operations of the LWBAF have been managed by the St. Croix Soccer Club (SCSC) in conjunction with the St. Croix Valley Athletic Association (VAA). The VAA and SCSC provide significant funding for the operation of the site. The trails that lie to the east and south of the facility provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about our native wildlands. The trails also lead south to the Bison Observation Tower where one can watch bison meander through tallgrass prairies that once carpeted this area of Minnesota.
Since its opening in 2000, there have been continual improvements to the site and more are planned, subject to the success of fundraising efforts to support those enhancements.