Multi-sport facility ‘news’ brings about multi-possibilities … and multi-questions

A BIG NIGHT:  Fans packed old Fair Grounds Field when it was brand new, on Opening Night 1986, showing high interest in professional baseball cited by Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins in his announcement Monday. (Courtesy photo)

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

Where it’s going to be, what it’s going to be, what it’s going to cost and when it will be a reality – some pretty important details – are all up for discussion, but Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins announced in a Monday news conference a plan to bring a multi-sport facility to the city.

“This development project is going to happen and it must happen,” Perkins said boldly. “We are on the threshold of transformation and invite the citizens of Shreveport to help us shape this area to be something we can all be proud of.”

The City of Shreveport has partnered with REV Entertainment to create the facility that would primarily used for baseball, but could also add other sports (soccer would be an obvious choice) as well as the entertainment option.

REV Entertainment is based in Arlington and is a sports management company that “works alongside venues to maximize potential” and “enhancing the success of partner sports facilities,” according to its website. REV Entertainment currently manages Globe Life Field (the new home of the Texas Rangers) and Choctaw Stadium, the previous home of the Rangers and now a multi-sport facility.

“We wanted to find the perfect partner to give the people of Shreveport what they truly deserve,” Perkins said. “We realized after our first meeting with REV Entertainment that we found someone who could move sports into the future.”

“To see the excitement of folks here and meet the stakeholders has been incredible,” REV Entertainment president Sean Decker said. “To sit and hear the thoughts, the visions, the opportunities to dream bigger is quite exciting. This project is a massive source of pride for me and REV Entertainment.”

The facility would seat around 2,500 to start but would have the ability to expand to as many as 10,000. As for how the funds were going to be generated to pay for it, the words “long-term lease” were commonly used as well as Perkins saying “ultimately this is going to be a public-private partnership.”

There is no timeline established for a construction start date.

The announcement was crafted as a return of “professional baseball,” with lots of spoken memories by Perkins of the glory days of the Shreveport Captains. But there’s a vast difference in “professional baseball” and what the Captains were – a Class AA franchise of the San Francisco Giants.

“Today we get to come together to re-imagine Shreveport bringing those memories back home,” Perkins said.

But minor league baseball left Shreveport after the 2002 season. The last baseball tenant of the Fair Grounds Field were teams that played in the independent Central League and American Association. That ended after the 2011 season.

Whether the timing was coincidental or purposeful, the announcement had many wondering if this was some kind of stay of execution for Fair Grounds Field, which had demolition proceedings recently halted.

Perkins was quick to point out – repeatedly so – that this would be an entirely new facility. There’s 180 acres of land available at the Louisiana State Fair Grounds; where that facility would be located is still anybody’s guess.

At the press conference held in the south end zone suite area of Independence Stadium, Perkins said the facility would be built “not too far from where we are standing today.”

The idea of a minor league team is the ultimate end-game scenario, but you don’t have to do a lot of imagining to think of prospective events that could be attracted. There are high school baseball tournaments, summer showcase events and, of course, a chance to attract college baseball games.

Just ask Louisiana Tech head baseball coach Lane Burroughs.

“As for home games, I’d be all for moving a couple of games over there for sure,” Burroughs said. “I think it might entice someone like LSU to play us at a neutral site so they wouldn’t have to come to our place. I can tell you this; I’d be all for it.”

But it’s not just the occasional neutral-site game, Burroughs said. “It would attractive to have the Conference USA tournament there, I can tell you that,” the Tech coach said. “With a place like Shreveport, every team could fly in there. Most of the coaches are against the on-campus conference tournaments. Something like that would be attractive as well.”

“We have as many questions today than we have answers,” Decker said. “We have a lot more listening to do. We have a long schedule ahead of us and a lot of work to make sure we are being collaborative.”

Contact JJ at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com