A new era is coming to Loeb Stadium, as the home of the Lafayette Aviators (summer collegiate; Prospect League) will be replaced in an extensive project.
Lafayette, IN officials recently unveiled details on a new ballpark that will be constructed in the coming years. After it hosts the Colt World Series in August 2019, the current Loeb Stadium structure will be demolished, clearing the way for construction of the new facility.
The plan calls for the new ballpark to be constructed within Columbian Park, but on a different footprint than that of the current Loeb Stadium. Home plate will move to the center field area of the current ballpark, allowing for the facility’s main entrance to be placed on the corner of Main and Wallace streets.
The new ballpark will feature about 2,000 fixed seats, plus berm seating down the first and third base lines. Also included in the new facility will be a synthetic playing surface, modern concessions and restrooms, and other features that should allow it to host non-baseball events.
As noted, the current Loeb Stadium–which originally opened in 1940–will be torn down in order for construction to begin. The new ballpark is expected to cost about $16 million and arrive during the fall of 2020. Lafayette officials–including mayor Tony Roswarski–are hoping that it will contribute to economic development in the area. More from the Journal & Courier:
“It’s about baseball and all those things but it’s about jobs, companies, keeping people here and people willing to move here and we need them to see the stadium.”
Funding for the project won’t include any property taxes, Roswarski said. The city will utilize funds from the Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT).
“That’s tied directly to the number of people that are working and how much those people are making,” Roswarski said. “We get a portion of that. That’s directly tied to economic development and how many people are working in the community.”
Selling naming rights to the stadium remains an option.
Given the construction timeline, the organizations that use the currently Loeb Stadium–including the Aviators–will need to explore alternate options for the 2020 season. As of last week’s announcement, the Aviators had not finalized their decision, but said that it was possible the team could sit out the 2020 season or play its home schedule in an alternate venue.
The current Loeb Stadium has a long history in baseball, and has been home to some professional clubs in the past. The Lafayette Red Sox of the Midwest League used the ballpark in 1956 and 1957, and it later served as home to several independent clubs during the 1990’s and 2000’s, including the Lafayette Leopards and the Ohio Valley Redcoats. The Aviators played their first season at the ballpark in 2016.
Renderings courtesy Lafayette Aviators.