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Sinkholes dot Dickey-Stephens Park warning track

Arkansas TravelersNorth Little Rock officials are facing a challenge at Dickey-Stephens Park, home of the Arkansas Travelers (Class AA; Texas League): sinkholes are appearing along the outfield warning track.

This isn’t new — the city and Travs front office needed to deal with sinkholes in previous years — but the number and size of sinkholes is causing some concern. The ballpark is located near the Arkansas River across from downtown Little Rock, and fluctuating water-table levels as well as the design of the original drainage system are cited as the cause for the sinkholes. Because of the size and scale of the issue, there’s concern that the sinkholes could cause structural damage to the outfield wall. From Arkansas Online:

“[The holes] follow the warning track in that general area of the outfield,” Chief City Engineer Chris Wilbourn said. “I’d say there are multiple sinkholes. Some are small, some medium.”

City officials and staff members from the Arkansas Travelers Baseball Club Inc.are to meet with an engineering firm next week to review the firm’s just-completed report about the problems, Travelers General Manager Paul Allen said Thursday.

“We’re to look at the report, and then come up with a plan to further cap it off,” Allen said. “It’s not like a typical sinkhole you think about that opens up and you see that on TV. These kind of shift an inch at a time. But if you let it keep going, it will.”

The long-term solution is to install a new drainage system at the ballpark, which opened in 2007. There is already money set aside for this, but it’s too close to the beginning of the 2016 season for any major work. Another complicating factor: the Arkansas River is at all-time highs, so things need to settle down before any other work is done on the sinkholes.

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