A new ballpark for the Lafayette Aviators (summer collegiate; Prospect League) could be on tap for 2019, as the Indiana city is preparing plans to tear down Loeb Stadium, which opened in 1940, to make way for a replacement.
The new ballpark would be based on Kokomo Municipal Stadium (coincidentally — or not — named the winner of the Ballpark Digest Best of the Ballparks 2016 summer-collegiate fan vote today), and it would be designed by that ballpark’s architect, Indianapolis-based American Structurepoint. It would feature the same synthetic turf playing field designed for multiple uses, including soccer. The current plan is for a $10-million, 2,350-seat ballpark. That’s less than Kokomo Municipal Stadium‘s $12-million price tag, but that project included flood-abatement work not needed in Lafayette.
Loeb Stadium is not in the best of shape, and fixing it would require millions. The 3,500-seat ballpark opened in 1940 and along the way hosted the Lafayette Red Sox of the Midwest League in 1956, as well as independent Frontier League ball in the form of the Ohio Valley Redcoats and the Lafayette Leopards. Over the years it is perhaps became best known as home to the Colt League Baseball World Series. Today it’s home to the first-year Lafayette Aviators, also owned by Kokomo Jackrabbits owner MKE Sports and Entertainment.
Work on the ballpark wouldn’t begin until 2017, with the work done in stages so the Aviators and Colt League World Series wouldn’t be interrupted. The eventual opening day is tentatively scheduled for 2019 — tentative because the city hasn’t yet set a final budget or funding source, though it sounds like the city will finance it through existing revenue streams:
Money will come from the city’s revenue streams, including existing income and property taxes, and [Mayor Tony] Roswarski doesn’t plan to ask the state’s legislature for permission to raise a special tax.
“We’ll be able to do it within our normal city budget,” he said.
The city also will explore the option of naming rights.
“We haven’t set an actual price yet,” Roswarski said. “It will be a percentage of what the cost is. We would be open to that.”