Demolition of the 1963 grandstand at Orlando’s Tinker Field, former spring home of the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins, will begin today due to a lack of renovation funds, with work expected to last 40 days.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and his administration have sought changes to the historic ballpark site, located next to the Citrus Bowl, for several years; an uprising last year saw a demolition put on hold. But after the Orlando City Council declined to devote any money toward the grandstand renovation — a cost that could have reached $10 million, given the age and the decaying nature of the facility — the city moved ahead with a plan to preserve the ballpark as a community and events space.
The nature of Tinker Field changed last season when an expansion of the Citrus Bowl took over a big chunk of right field with new concourse space. The baseball diamond and existing playing field will be maintained; it’s just the 1963 grandstand that’s being removed.
In addition, a marker noting the ballpark’s history is planned. Professional baseball moved out of Tinker Field in 1999 with the departure of the Orlando Rays; summer-collegiate ball proved to be a struggle as well.
Though the field was used for baseball as far back as 1914, Tinker Field opened in 1923 (as shown above) and the grandstand was rebuilt in 1963 (as shown below). The Cincinnati Reds trained there in 1923-1930, the Brooklyn Dodgers trained there in 1934-1935, and the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins trained there between 1936 and 1990, save the three wartime years when the team trained in College Park, Md.; this franchise is most closely associated with the facility. There are some Griffith Stadium seats still installed in the Tinker Field grandstand, but a bust of former Sens owner Clark Griffith disappeared. It was named for former Chicago Cubs infielder Joe Tinker — he of Tinker to Evers to Chance fame — who retired in Orlando.