ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The city of Albany may be breathing new life into the Paul Eames Sports Complex. Leaders are looking into potential improvements and expansion to draw tournaments and events for several different sports.
The idea is just getting started, but many people remember when Albany was home to pro baseball and some nights thousands of people would be at the Eames Stadium. That might not be possible, but the complex could be an asset for the city once again.
The Eames Sports Complex and its four baseball fields still host the four Dougherty High School baseball teams, American Legion baseball, and youth city football.
Now there are talks about making the entire complex a real sports center.
"Things are kind of falling into place, so I'm excited. I think this would be another feather in our cap, if we can do this," said Albany Assistant City Manager Wes Smith.
The Sports Complex was brought to life in 1989 at a cost of $4,000,000.
The Albany Polecats began pro baseball play in 1992 on the second field. In 1993, they moved into the stadium.
The stadium has seen a half dozen pro teams and several renovations costing hundreds of thousands dollars, but issues like sinkholes in one of the fields need attention.
"I think the biggest issue is age. It's time for us to upgrade and get it back in shape," said Smith.
It might not be pro baseball again, but community leaders think their regional connections could bring events like travel baseball tournaments, and increased use.
The city owns the land all the way to the river behind the stadium, so there is room for other sports facilities as well. Officials wonder what the costs would be to make that possible.
"There were moneys put in SPLOST for some sort of recreational facility, ball fields. It's not been spent. So we are looking at opportunities. You got the fields out there. Maybe there is room for other opportunities as well," said Smith.
Advocates and city officials toured the facility Wednesday with architects to get a real picture of the complex's current condition, while exploring ideas of what it could be in the future.
Over the years the Eames Stadium was home to the Polecats, the Southern Pines, the Waves, the Silver Bullets, the Peanuts, and the Alligators.
Some community leaders dream the entire complex could be reborn to include more sports and events.