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Politician: New Huntsville ballpark unlikely

Huntsville StarsA city councilman representing the Joe Davis Stadium area says it’s unlikely a new ballpark would ever be built for the Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League), as the existing facility is more than adequate.

The discussion came up after Birmingham opened a sparkling-new ballpark last night; the natural in-state rivalry was a little hard to ignore for television station WAFF, where a reported went out to see if there were any changes in the offing for the Stars.

Nope, said councilman Bill Kling, in no uncertain terms:

Where critics see an outdated relic, Kling sees something else: “I like our stadium.” Kling told WAFF 48 News on Wednesday.  “We had three American League Rookie of the Years come through there. A lot of history there. In many ways we’re like the Wrigley Field of the Southern League.”

Kling says the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on Joe Davis. This year alone, he cites several key improvements. “Lighting’s being upgraded, there’s some additions being done to the field, the locker rooms for both teams are going to be upgraded.” Kling also says the current location of the stadium is a huge selling point. “It’s located off the Parkway, so it’s easy to get in and get out, we don’t have a lot of congestion.”

Kling dismisses the idea of a new stadium, at least one funded by city dollars. He also had some choice words for his counterparts in Jefferson County. “I suppose if some large company wanted to come out and build the stadium so it could be named after them, something could be worked out.” Kling said. “But, Birmingham — they’re being excessive, spending millions of dollars they really don’t have.”

Well, Birmingham does have the money, and they’re already seeing the benefits of ballpark spending with increased economic activity in the area. And we’re guessing there’s little chance anyone would spend $25 million on a privately financed ballpark in Huntsviile. Though GM Buck Rogers has done a good job in spurring interest in Stars baseball, at the end of the day owner Miles Prentice will need to decide whether finishing near the bottom of Southern League attendance is a sustainable business model — or whether there are greener fields elsewhere. Huntsville, in theory, should be a good baseball market, as the average income there is slightly higher than the rest of the state. But Joe Davis Stadium is a marginal facility, and parent Milwaukee Brewers have raised concerns about its player facilities in the past. Huntsville may need to lose a baseball team before the locals realize they want pro baseball in their community.

RELATED STORIES: Prentice: We’re happy in Huntsville; Stars, Brewers talking PDC renewal;


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