Over the weekend, fans removed seats and other items from Wichita’s Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, another sign of the ballpark’s impending demolition.
Wichita officials are currently working on a plan to demolish Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, clearing the way for a new ballpark on the same site that would be constructed for the relocating New Orleans Baby Cakes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). Along with hosting the annual National Baseball Congress World Series, Lawrence-Dumont Stadium had been home to several affiliated minor league and independent teams over the years, most recently the Wichita Wingnuts (independent; American Association) from 2008-2018.
The Wingnuts closed out their final season at the ballpark in September, and officials are still working out the plan to land the Baby Cakes (a development agreement with the team will be discussed by the Wichita City Council on Tuesday). With that process continuing, the gates of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium were opened on Saturday, when fans were allowed to remove and purchase seats and items such as signage. For many, this provided an opportunity to collect a souvenir from a ballpark that has provided plenty of memories over the years. More from the Wichita Eagle:
“It’s making people happy,” [Director of Wichita Parks and Recreation Troy] Houtman said. “That’s what it’s all about. People are getting to keep these lasting memories.”
Like game day, the most popular seats were the front row, heavy-duty blue section fold-down chairs with cup holders, which went fast for $35 a pop. In sections of one to four, the stadium’s seats were dismantled and hauled off.
Some, like Andrew Doggett, had a history with the chairs he chose to take home.
“I’ve had a lot of good memories at Lawrence-Dumont,” Doggett said, “and I’d like to have some chairs to remember those memories by.”
Lawrence-Dumont Stadium is slated to be demolished for a new ballpark and surrounding development, with the new venue scheduled to open for the relocating Baby Cakes in 2020. That would mark the first time that Wichita has had an affiliated minor league team since 2007, when the Wichita Wranglers (Class AA; Texas League) played their final season at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium before relocating to Springdale, AR to become the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
A Class AA Southern League team is expected to move to New Orleans at the same time that the Pacific Coast League franchise relocates to Wichita. The move of a as-of-yet-unanounced Southern League team would come under the ownership of the current New Orleans ownership, led by Lou Schwechheimer, allowing the Baby Cakes name to live on.
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