Does the city want to pour more $ into Eames park? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Does the city want to pour more $ into Eames park?

March 8, 2006

Albany -- The City of Albany has pumped more than $5 million into the Paul Eames Sports Complex since 1992. First, to build the stadium and then to make major repairs around 2002.

Now, city leaders are considering spending more money to get the stadium ready for yet another semi-professional baseball league, looking to start a team.

So is it worth pumping more taxpayer's money into the facility, when history shows baseball teams aren't successful here?

The Paul Eames Stadium was originally built to house the Polecats back in 1992. But since then, more high school and league games have been played there than professional. The stadium is in pretty good shape, structurally.

But since the office, concession stand and locker room haven't been used in years, as much as $200,000 of work would have to be done to get ready for another professional team. 

Albany Engineering Director Wes Smith was surprised by the condition of the Paul Eames Stadium. "The stadium itself, functionally and operationally, is in very good condition."

Better condition, in fact, than Smith first thought. His office estimated the stadium needed around $225,000 in repairs before a new professional baseball team could move in. "When we were asked to price the work, we thought we would want to give it full cosmetic revamping to make sure it was in really good shape."

Smith said the entire facility could use a good pressure washing and a fresh coat of paint, which would cost about $100,000. But, it's not absolutely necessary. "The degree of clean, that will actually be required in the contract between the City and the team, is up to the commission and the team itself."

The South Coast League said they don't think some of those cosmetic improvements are needed. "We have made a commitment to make some of those repairs ourselves," said Jaime Toole, CEO South Coast League.

The League told city commissioners they might help pay to repair or replace the scoreboard - a repeat victim of lightning. "It gets struck almost annually," Smith said. Smith estimates repairing the scoreboard and installing a lightning suppression system would cost about $60,000.

Even with that cost, clean up and a few minor repairs, the City spent nearly $1.5 million on repairs to the stadium in 2002, before the Waves came to town. They waterproofed the facility after major drainage problems flooded the stadium and caused extensive damage. But the Waves didn't stay here but one season. So now, commissioners have to decide if it's worth spending any money at all considering Albany's baseball track record.

The South Coast League has promised to stay in Albany three years - one year to market the team and two full seasons of baseball. They say they'll pay for maintenance, utilities and rent on the office space.

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