Demolish or restore? Voters to help decide fate of Fair Grounds Field

Renovate or demolish? Shreveport voters to help decide fate of once-iconic Fair Grounds Field

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — The fate of Shreveport’s once-iconic Fair Grounds Field soon be in the hands of the city’s voters.

Gut punch to renovation plans: Bond proposals include $1 million to demolish Fair Grounds Field

That’s if that portion a $186 million bond proposal package gets the green light.

A million dollars already is earmarked for demolition.

If Fair Grounds Field is demolished, the bond propositions call for a parking lot to be built on the site.

The idea: To make it ready for future economic development.

Fair Grounds Field, empty and unused for eight years, is but a shadow of its former glory; .

But a group that last year announced plans to try to save the ballpark hasn’t given up its fight to renovate the venue.

Shreveport's Fair Grounds Field might soon be demolished

Where some see demolition as the answer, others have a different idea.

“What we want to do is renovate the stadium and make it a multipurpose facility," Realtor Shayne Sharkey said. "And we’re going to focus on youth, high school and college sports.”|

The plan is to save Fair Grounds Field from destruction, raise an estimated $5 million to $7 million to renovate the place then lease it from the city as a nonprofit, he added.

"We can present the new information as far as the flooding and everything out here and the water drainage, how we can alleviate those problems. And just kind of stress to them again that this is doable."

By some estimates, removing the infestation of 40,000 bats plus the disease and fungus that come along with them could cost $350,000.

Even then, the 33-year-old ballpark would not yet be ready to be opened.

It fails to meet many of the newer building code standards.

That could help explain why dozens of groups who’ve checked out Fair Grounds Field have decided against taking on the project.

Shelly Ragle, director of Shreveport Public Assembly & Recreation, said that’s only half of the story.

“We’ve had other developers come through and say, ‘I like the site. It’s right there on I-20. But now I’m gonna have to spend all this money to tear this stadium down to get it ready.’

"So this is a good way to ready it for some potential economic development.”

Next week, Sharkey and his group will make their case before the City Council.

And even if everything goes according to plan, he said, it could take 18 months to renovate Fair Grounds Field.

That means spring 2021 would be the soonest games could resume at the baseball park.

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UPDATE: Following is video of the Shreveport City Council work session Aug. 26 »

City Council Meeting August 13, 2019

City Council Meeting August 13, 2019

Posted by Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins on Monday, August 26, 2019

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