By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports
Fair Grounds Field, which for 16 years provided summer fun and created lifelong memories for area baseball fans, will soon be brought to its knees.
The ballpark, which opened in 1986 and was home to the minor league Shreveport Captains for 14 years, will be torn down, city officials confirmed Monday.
Marquel Sennet, spokesperson for Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins, told The Journal a contractor has been chosen to demolish the structure, for a projected cost of $280,306. Sennet said the city is in the process of executing a contract, which should take 30 days.
“It’s disappointing, but I can understand,” said former Captains president Taylor Moore. Moore was the driving force behind FGF being built. “I haven’t been in the stadium for 15 years, maybe even a little longer than that. From what I’ve seen and heard, it’s deteriorated so badly that I don’t think there’s a redemption point. I think the cost to redeem it would be prohibitive, and there’s still not really a tenant available that could justify that.”
Moore sold the Captains after the 2000 season. The Shreveport Swamp Dragons played at FGF for two years, before moving to Frisco, Texas.
Recently, there has been a grass roots effort to save FGF. However, it appears those efforts have failed.
“Devastated,” said Davante Austin. Austin has been getting signatures on a petition in support of keeping FGF alive. “With all the memories that it brought to everybody, it’s just crazy that they would turn it into a parking lot when they can renovate it, get all the bats out, and fully fix it and bring families back to Shreveport and stop violence.”
In the 20 years since it’s been vacant, the stadium has become an eyesore for the city. Travelers on Interstate 20 see a fence with gaping holes, and broken press box and sky box windows. Inside, bats – not the baseball kind — have made FGF their home.
“A lot of people will look at it like that (removing an eyesore),” said Edward Best, who advocated on social media to have FGF renovated. “The way I look at it, this was something that was brought on by the city administration. It never had to be an eye sore. It never had to be an eye sore. If the city would have put in the money to keep it up — just a basic amount of money for upkeep — that park would not look like that.”
In 2019, the city presented to voters three bond proposals, totaling $186 million. Within one of those proposals was $1 million to tear down FGF. All three proposals failed.
An email to Jerry Bowman, who is city councilman for District G, where FGF is located, was not returned Monday. Efforts to reach Shelly Ragle, Director of SPAR (Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation), were unsuccessful.
Photo by DAVANTE AUSTIN