Cleveland's League Park, or what’s left of it, the home of the Cleveland Indians from 1901-1946 is going to be renovated in the coming year.
The City of Cleveland plans to donate $5 million,and raise the rest of the funds through donations to meet the $8.5 million total projected cost.
An original ticket window along with a wall containing bricks from the original stadium are all that remain of the ball park. The team says that they are going to try to build it to emulate the original park as much as possible just on a smaller scale. (select the image above to see a larger version of what the renovation will look like)
The plan is for local high schools and colleges to be able to play their games on the field. The team also claims that an exhibition game involving the Indians might be played there once it has been renovated. The game will probably be between the Indians and one of their local minor league clubs, probably their AA affiliate, the Akron Aeros.
League Park, known as Dunn Field from 1916-1927, was the home of the Indians when they won the 1920 World Series. Located on the west side of Cleveland, the stadium is in a down trodden area of the city. The team hopes that renovating the stadium will some how put life back into that part of the city.
Meanwhile, another piece of ballpark history teeters on the edge of demolition.
Many believe that a renovation similar to League Park should occur at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. The ballpark, known as Navin Field from 1912-1927 and Briggs Stadium from 1938-1960, was the home of the Tigers from 1912-1999.
The debate has lingered as to whether or not to tear the stadium down for almost a decade. With the once dominant piece of architecture now rendered useless by some, city leaders have focused on redevelopment of a non-baseball ilk – condos, as opposed to a ballpark renovation such as what is occurring in Cleveland with League Park.
The stadium at Michigan and Trumbull recently has seen a reprieve of sorts as the City Planning Commission recently declined to recommend approval for proposed redevelopment plans for the historic facility.
The cost of the entire down town development project for that area is $2.9 million, that will have 90 new residential units. There will also be 30,000 square feet of commercial space built in the area as part of the project.
Detroit’s civic leaders should look to the League Park renovation, as opposed to condemning Tiger Stadium to the wrecking ball. Cleveland sees the value in ballpark history, and Detroit should do the same.
Coincidentally, League Park is where Babe Ruth hit his 500th homerun and Tiger Stadium is where he blasted his 700th. Four different people earned their 3,000th hits in the respected locations including Tris Speaker in Cleveland and Ty Cobb in Detroit. It is because of these reasons and many more that people of both cities want to see the parks renewed and once again used for what they were built.
Bill Jordan is a staff member of The Biz of Baseball. He can be contacted via our Authors page.