HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – City leaders insist baseball is over at “The Joe.”
“They’ve made it very clear that they will not play again at Joe Davis Stadium,” said Mayor Tommy Battle.
Since The Huntsville Stars left town, rumors have flown about the stadium’s future but none have taken root, until now.
Thursday night, city council members took the first step toward giving Joe Davis Stadium a new life by approving a study to look into whether the old stadium can become an entertainment space.
“What we are talking about is a theater that would seat 10,000 people. That would be by far, the largest venue in the city,” explained John Hamilton, city administrator.
He said an amphitheater could work there, and it’s an unmet need in the community.
“It is something we are routinely asked for,” explained Shane Davis, Director of Urban Development. “Especially by our younger generation that have come from another city.”
“We’ve had prior studies done that indicated that this market is ripe for an amphitheater. We’ve had lots of people in the arts community talk about a need for it,” Hamilton added.
But what would it look like? How much would it all cost? Could it even work? Hamilton said the feasibility study would get answers. It is still possible the study could reveal it’s not the right decision for the space.
Leaders believe that if this plan does work out, it could redefine Huntsville’s music scene. With a larger venue and partnering with the Von Braun Center, Huntsville could attract larger acts that right now, would not consider performing in the Rocket City. Planners believe it could become a regional concert destination.
The project may even save money by using the existing stadium, instead of starting from scratch. But there would undoubtedly be lots of work to do to make it ready.
“It would require a significant amount of renovation, but that may be a good idea,” commented Hamilton.
With the vote to approve the feasibility study, council members decided it was worth trying to find out. It may even be a home run. If it’s feasible, the council would still need to vote on a proposal. The study should be back in a few months.
What About Baseball?
Meanwhile, Mayor Tommy Battle explained the future of baseball in Huntsville as it stands right now.
“At this time, we have no plans to build a new baseball stadium. It’s a $42 million question if you get into it,” said Mayor Battle. “We want to find something that gives a use to the old stadium. If baseball ever came back up, I made it very abundantly clear we will be looking for someone who will partner with us. A partner would be bringing their money to the table. It would have to be a significant amount. They would have to also have local ownership. They would also need to be somebody who would be interested in long-term success of the team.”
Battle said they learned a lot of lessons with the Huntsville Stars.
“If we ever get back to that stage, each one of the citizens will have to have a say in it. There would have to be some buy-in… There would have to be enough community backing to make it happen.”