Historic McBride Stadium, the WPA-era home of the Richmond River Rats (summer collegiate; Prospect League), will need repairs to its press box and other structural elements, according to an engineering firm inspecting the facility.
The ballpark, already damaged last summer by high winds, will need more structural repairs, such as either a new support system for the top-level press box or its removal. The local parks and rec director wants to move it off the roof and under the grandstand, but there are a few issues: there’s no money in the budget for needed repairs, nor is there a timeline to make them.
The 74-year-old ballpark is one of many WPA-funded or -built ballparks still in use across the United States. There are many more in use on the local and high-school level, but we’ve identified 45 or so facilities still being used for pro and summer-collegiate ballpark (including Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium, Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field and Tucson’s Hi Corbett Field), and we’re busily working on our book on WPA ballparks, set to be released this summer.
Richmond may want to rethink the idea of taking down the historic press box, one of the signature items in WPA-era ballparks. You know the look: the small box perched high atop the grandstand roof, usually accessible via some scary ropewalk. It’s one of the elements that makes a WPA ballpark unique, and one that the city should explore keeping.
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