SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Efforts to save Fair Grounds Field in Shreveport have been renewed in light of a bond proposal that includes plans to demolish the condemned ballfield.
Once the home of the Shreveport Swamp Dragons and Shreveport Captains, Fair Grounds Field is now a dilapidated, overgrown, and bat-infested eyesore right next to Interstate 20.
A petition started in July 2018 to “Save Fair Grounds Field” garnered around 2,500 signatures in three weeks. Shayne Sharkley of Play Ball Shreveport went before the Shreveport City Council in February of this year to offer its vision for revitalization and redevelopment of the property. The private group asked the city for a chance to lease the property, laying out plans to turn the stadium around and into a multi-sport complex and make it available for colleges, high schools, and tournaments.
The estimated cost was around $27 million, with funding sources coming from individual donors, corporate investments, advertising revenue, and non-profit grants, Sharkley said.
At the time, the city council promised to consider giving the idea a chance. Six months later, the council has approved a $186 million bond proposal that included $1 million for the demolition of the ballpark. The proposal will be on the November 16 ballot.
The bond proposal description justifying the demolition says, “Fairgrounds Field was built more than 30 years ago. It has outlived its glory days. Many organizations have approached the City about utilizing Fairgrounds Field over the years, but the structural and cosmetic needs make the venue cost-prohibitive. An empty lot would do more to encourage economic development, and it would be a more attractive view from I-20.”
City leaders say it doesn’t meet building and sanitation codes, is not a handicap accessible, and is undersized for the city’s capacity.
But Play Ball Shreveport is not giving up yet. Sharkley says they plan to go before the Shreveport City Council Monday afternoon to continue to make the case to save the ballfield.
The organization is encouraging supporters of the push to save Fair Grounds Field to attend the public meeting and to sign the petition, which now has more than 3,400 signatures.