HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – In less than two years, Madison’s new baseball stadium will be finished. Meanwhile, Huntsville’s old ballpark Joe Davis Stadium has been vacant for years.
You can’t say Joe Davis stadium is going to the dogs, more like the birds. Birds have taken over the old open-air stadium. “We’d go, we’d take the kids, it was always a great feeling because it felt like you were right there on the field,” Russell Kucinsky said.
Baseball fans have a soft spot for the old park, even though the rugged field hasn’t been tended in years. The Stars are long gone, no one’s calling at will call and the only smiling faces you’ll find in the 30-year-old park are the old murals of fans.
“It’s ripe for redevelopment. The stadium is obsolete,” Huntsville city administrator John Hamilton said.
The old ballpark hasn’t been open to the public for about three years. City administrator John Hamilton says the place is likely going to be torn down, it’s just a question of when. Hamilton says the ballpark estimate for demolition is around $1 million, and that’s mostly the cost of hauling the steel and concrete to the dump.
“We do have a developer,” Hamilton said.
A new festival area is being dug one lot over and the string of lamp posts down the street is a clue to the stadium’s fate.
“We don’t want to just put anything there. We want to put something that’s in demand from the community and there’s a need for it within the community,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton says he and the mayor are adamant, the 40-acre city-owned lot is not for sale. As the lights go on at nearby John Hunt Park at sunset, parents find a spot to watch their kids. They say the need is for more youth sports parks.
“You’re going to have tournaments every weekend. Baseball, they play year-round now,” Kucinsky said.
“Something happening in calendar year 2019 is pretty aggressive,” Hamilton said. “But I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. 2020 is probably more likely to see the physical manifestation of agreements.”
Hamilton says he plans to let the market decide how swiftly they move on the old ballpark, but doubts it’ll become a future baseball venue.
The city says the ballpark is off-limits to the public, but they’ve been renting out the parking lot for events, including a rap concert that’ll happen next Friday.