A new proposal calls for repurposing Joe Davis Stadium into a multi-sport venue, potentially reviving the former home of the Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League).
Joe Davis Stadium hosted its last full season of Minor League Baseball in 2014, and has not seen any MiLB action since the Biloxi Shuckers used the ballpark for some home games in 2015 while awaiting the completion of MGM Park (the Stars became the Shuckers after relocating to Biloxi). It has gone largely unused since and fallen into a state of decline, prompting plenty of debate about whether it should be revived in some fashion or demolished.
Huntsville officials are exploring the idea of renovating the facility. Under a preliminary plan that was presented to the Huntsville City Council Thursday, Joe Davis Stadium would be renovated into a multi-sport venue that primarily focuses on offerings such as football and soccer. The renovated Joe Davis Stadium would seat about 6,000, with several existing amenities–including the press box, concessions, restrooms, offices, and clubhouses–receiving upgrades. The current estimated cost of the project is $8 million.
A final decision has not been made on the proposal and plenty of steps would need to be completed to make it a reality, though city officials noted on Thursday that a renovated Joe Davis Stadium could fill a niche in the local sports scene by hosting high school football and potentially helping to attract a soccer club. More from Huntsville Business Journal:
“In short, the answer is, yes, we believe that taking a portion of the stadium and converting it to a multisport athletic facility is a viable option and we could consider doing that,’” said City Administrator John Hamilton.
Designs show a stadium that would seat about 6,200 people and could play host to soccer, football, lacrosse and other activities. Hamilton said the ability to hold high school football in the stadium is a big piece to the plan.
“The biggest issue that can be addressed by using the stadium is lack of high school football stadiums,” Hamilton said. “We have five high schools in Huntsville and we only have one stadium (Milton Frank Stadium) that they all share. Most every high school in Alabama has its own stadium, so you’ve got one stadium for one school. Our community has one for five, so it’s really become an issue.”
The field would also fit a FIFA standard soccer field – 120 yards by 70 yards. This would allow for large soccer events and possibly a minor league soccer team at the stadium, possibly a National Women’s Soccer League franchise or games or a National Premier Soccer League franchise. There are NPSL teams in Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and Chattanooga, as well as Asheville, N.C., and Miami.
Joe Davis Stadium hosted its first game in 1985, and was considered out-of-date at the time that the Stars relocated. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area is set to be served by a new MiLB venue next year, when nearby Madison opens a new ballpark for the Southern League’s Rocket City Trash Pandas (the current Mobile BayBears). Joe Davis Stadium is among the facilities listed on our Endangered Ballparks page.