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Cleveland’s League Park once again target for restoration

League Park

The remaining pieces of League Park, once the home of the Cleveland Indians, would be restored in the next several years, as the Cleveland City Council approves spending $387,000 on architectural plans.

League ParkThe ballpark, originally designed by Osborn Engineering for the 1910 MLB season, is now down to a brick wall down the right-field line and a corner ticket office (which are shown in this old postcard quite nicely). The plan calls for a restoration project in two steps. The first would renovate the building and clean up the brick wall as well as redo the playing field with a diamond laid out to the same dimensions as the original. That part of the plan would cost $5 million, and city leaders say they have the funds to move ahead.

The second part of the plan, which would cost $3.5 million, would come from private sources and include putting up bleachers, restrooms and concessions. Baseball would be played once again in front of real fans.

It’s as much an urban renewal project as a baseball project: the Hough neighborhood is not in the best of shape, and the ballpark is seen as a way to improve the area.

This was actually the second League Park at the site. The first opened in 1891 and was a wooden facility holding 9,000 or so. That ballpark was torn down in 1909 and new steel and brick ballpark seating 21,000 was erected for the 1910 season, with the Cleveland Naps as the main tenant. That team — which eventually became known as the Indians — would call League Park home for many more years. In the 1930s the team would play both at League Park and at Municipal Stadium, an odd situation to be sure: because of the need to fit the ballpark in the city street grid it was only 290 feet down the line in right field — as opposed to the spacious environs of cavernous Municipal Stadium. (Why the split? No night games at League Park; lights were never installed.) At the end of the 1946 season Indians owner Bill Veeck announced the team would play full-time at Municipal Stadium. It was a place with some distinct history: the Indians won a world title there in 1920, and the Cleveland Buckeyes captured a Negro Leagues title there in 1945.

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