Batting Around: New eras and abandonment

What becomes of a ballpark once a team leaves? Answers vary

Greer Stadium, former home of the Nashville Sounds, is slated for demolition. Its iconic guitar scoreboard will live on, however.

By Benjamin Hill / MiLB.com | April 25, 2019 10:15 AM

When a Minor League team moves to a new ballpark, what happens to the one they leave behind? 

The answer to that question varies, of course. Some facilities are essentially abandoned, left to decay until they are finally, mercifully, razed. Others go on to host summer collegiate or independent teams, while some are repurposed so that they may host another sport or another form of entertainment entirely. 

One former Minor League facility that has made headlines in recent weeks is Greer Stadium, which hosted the Nashville Sounds from 1978-2014. After the Sounds moved to brand-new First Tennessee Park in 2015, Greer Stadium fell into a state of neglect and disrepair. As reported by The Tennessean, former mayor Megan Barry advocated a controversial plan to redevelop the site into the Cloud Hill mixed-use project. She abandoned that position in early 2018; her successor, David Briley, changed course even more drastically and is now behind a plan to integrate Greer Stadium land into the adjacent Civil War-era Fort Negley historic site. This, per Briley, will "honor the history of Fort Negley and the slaves who built it."

A six-month Greer Stadium demolition project is underway. When the ballpark is fully demolished, archaeologists will excavate the 21-acre tract of land on which it once stood. David Taylor, a spokesman for Nashville's Metro Park and Recreation, told local TV station WKRN that Greer Stadium has "kind of outlived its usefulness. It's an old and dilapidated stadium used by the Sounds for almost, what, 40 years."  

One iconic piece of this "old and dilapidated" stadium will live on, however. Greer Stadium's guitar scoreboard was put up for auction by the city, and one buyer stepped up to meet the minimum bid. AJ Capital Partners, based in Chicago, paid $54,815 for the scoreboard. AJ Capital's Jack Richmond told The Tennessean that the company plans to incorporate it into the upcoming design of the Nashville Warehouse Company mixed-use site.

"We are thrilled to capture such a legendary piece of Nashville's past and integrate the iconic scoreboard," Richmond said.  

***

A somewhat similar situation is playing out in El Paso, Texas. Cohen Stadium opened in 1990 as the home of the Texas League's El Paso Diablos and hosted an independent team (also named the Diablos) as recently as 2013. The ballpark was abandoned following that season, as a result of the city building a new ballpark (Southwest University Field) to host the Pacific Coast League's El Paso Chihuahuas. 

Earlier this month, per El Paso's KVIA, "El Paso City Council approved the budget to demolish Cohen Stadium and make room for the ballpark's transformation into an entertainment district in the northeast." This proposed entertainment district would include a water park, restaurants and a "large urban plaza."  

***

Three teams moved into new ballparks for the 2019 season, leaving three old ballparks behind.

Cashman Field (Las Vegas): After playing at Cashman Field from 1983-2018, the PCL's Las Vegas 51s became the Aviators this year and moved into brand-new Las Vegas Ballpark in nearby Summerlin, Nevada. Las Vegas City Council awarded a lease of the old stadium to the Las Vegas Lights of the United Soccer League, and the Lights are currently transforming Cashman Field into a soccer-specific facility. 


Cashman Field was the home of the Las Vegas 51s from 1983-2018.

Jim Perry Stadium (Buies Creek, North Carolina): The Buies Creek Astros played two Minor League seasons at Jim Perry Stadium, the home of Campbell University's Fighting Camels. The Astros' time in Buies Creek was a stopgap solution, with Jim Perry Stadium serving as a temporary home while a new ballpark was being built in nearby Fayetteville. Segra Stadium -- the home of the Woodpeckers -- is open for business. Jim Perry Stadium remains the home of the Fighting Camels.  

Kindrick Legion Field (Helena, Montana): The Helena Brewers departed for Colorado Springs, where they will be known as the Rocky Mountain Vibes. Kindrick Legion Field will continue to host baseball, just not at the professional level. The Helena Senators, an American Legion baseball program, have taken over ballpark operations from the city. The Senators will pay the city $5,000 annually in exchange for a special-use permit. 

Meanwhile, there was one new ballpark that opened in 2018.

SRP Park (North Augusta, South Carolina): SRP Park, home of the Augusta GreenJackets, replaced Lake Olmstead Park in Augusta, Georgia. After a period of uncertainty, it appears that the next era in the facility's history is set to begin. Lake Olmstead Park will be converted into an amphitheater. Last month, the Richmond County Commission voted to issue a contract to Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc., "to provide advisory and support services for the renovation."

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More