With the launch of high-school play this week, locals are counting down the final days of Loeb Stadium, the former home to Minor League Baseball and Cleveland Indians spring training in Lafayette, IN.
Loeb Stadium opened in 1940 and was host to the Indiana high-school baseball championships, as well as the Lafayette Red Sox (Low A; Mississippi–Ohio Valley League/Midwest League) in 1955-1957; that team eventually ended up as the Lansing Lugnuts after a stop in Waterloo, IA. The ballpark also hosted Cleveland Indians spring training in 1943-1945, when wartime travel restrictions forced teams to train locally instead of warmer-weather climes.) Most recently Loeb Stadium has also served as home to the Lafayette Aviators (summer collegiate; Prospect League), independent-baseball teams and the Colt World Series, a great draw over the years.
But the decision was made to basically build a new ballpark at the Loeb Stadium site, flipping the diamond and constructing a new grandstand in what’s now past center field. The new facility will be smaller than the current Loeb Stadium, seating only about 2,000, with a synthetic turf to allow more use in a longer season.
Still, for those who grew up at the current Loeb Stadium, losing the old facility is a little bittersweet. From the Journal & Courier:
[High school coach Scott] McTagertt, who after playing at Purdue for one season began coaching and also working on the grounds crew for Loeb Stadium, still encounters random onlookers.
“I have been coaching since my second year out of high school here,” McTagertt said. “I played four years here and never miss games here. It has been my entire life.
“It’s got so many memories. When I get to work here in the summer, so many people come here from California, from St. Louis, all over. They fly into Indianapolis and they come here to see it again because they played in the Colt World Series or they grew up here and got to play here or they got to see the Lafayette Red Sox (a Class D minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox in the 1950s).”
Construction will begin on the new ballpark in August and run through the beginning of 2021.
Rendering courtesy American Structurepoint.
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