It seems a little hurried to us, but Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) management says they’ll be ready to play at a new downtown ballpark next season.
It’s an issue constantly being addressed by GM Jonathan Nelson: whether Regions Field will be open for play next April. The answer is yes.
“There’s still an incredible amount of doubt about whether we’ll even relocate in April 2013, even though we started pouring concrete (two weeks ago),” Nelson told the Birmingham News. “I don’t know whether it’s the mentality of people seeing so many projects over the years sort of get promised, get excited about them and then fizzle out.”
The city and the Barons have the advantage of weather: no reason to halt or curtail construction in a Southern clime because of snow. So that means crews can work right through for the 2013 season opener. And we’re guessing the team will begin the season with an extended road trip to give construction planners every minute possible.
It will probably surprise skeptics how quickly a new ballpark can go up, especially if there are no infrastructure issues. And overall it sounds like the new downtown ballpark is generating new interest in baseball in Birmingham — to a level not seem since Michael Jordan donned the Barons colors.
The $64-million ballpark and Negro Leagues museum will be located near downtown Birmingham at Railroad Park. Naming rights to the facility are carrying over from the Barons’ current home, Regions Park in suburban Hoover.
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