SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS)
A group trying to restore Fair Grounds Field in Shreveport makes their case to City Council on Monday.
This comes after the approved 186-million dollar bond proposal provides funding to demolish the site for economic development.
During the meeting the council and mayor made it clear they appreciate the idea of saving Fair Grounds Field, but they believe the city is just better off tearing it down and building something new.
The group ‘Play Ball Shreveport’ has a vision to restore Fair Grounds Field and turn it into a multi-sports complex for all ages. They’ve been working to gain momentum for the past year and were surprised to find out its demolition was part of the bond proposal.
“We didn’t know they had other plans for the area. We just knew that we saw a need and we wanted to help. Today what I wanted to do was that we put in a lot of work over the last year and a half so we just wanted to present the information we’ve gathered,” said Shayne Sharkey, Play Ball Shreveport organizer.
The group has a lot of support but before they can raise private donations they need the building’s lease.
“Whatever your vision is for the place it helps. It’s not to prohibit you. As far as giving land leases though, the city has to be extremely careful with that right. It’s a chicken and egg problem. We don’t want to get into the business of handing out land leases and expecting people to raise private funds rather than them already having private funds on hand then coming to us for land leases,” said Mayor Adrian Perkins, City of Shreveport.
The building is not structurally sound, not up to code, and home to a protected bat species.
“I’ll say if the decision were between spending $1-million to demolish the fair grounds and spending seven or more million dollars in public money to renovate the stadium, I would not be inclined to spend $7-million that the City of Shreveport does not have right now,” said John Nickelson, City Council District C.
The bond proposal has already passed and heads to voters.
“So based on what they told you today, what’s your next step? That’s a good question. I don’t know. When you put a year and a half of work into something and you open it up to where people with several different talents can be a part of it and then it suddenly comes to a stop it’s kind of hard to see what the next step is going to be. So just be with prayer,” Sharkey said.
Sharkey made it clear he does not want people to vote against the bond proposal that will help police and fire based on Fair Grounds Field.