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Hoots to O’Fallon; Clemens Field Future in Play

Clemens Field

With the Hannibal Hoots (summer collegiate; Prospect League) relocating to O’Fallon’s CarShield Field, the future of Hannibal’s Clemens Field — heavily impacted by Mississippi River flooding — will be debated in coming weeks.

Last week the O’Fallon (MO) City Council approved a five-year lease for the relocating Hoots, with a $125,000 annual lease and revenue sharing on any naming-rights deal. The move ensures stability for the Hoots, who spent much of the season playing “home” games in nearby Quincy after flooding forced the closure of Clemens Field.

That flooding impacted not only the 2019 but the 2020 season, as Hannibal officials work out how to pay for repairs to the historic structure. Clemens Field, named for native son Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), opened in 1939 with funding from the Works Project Administration and built from the same set of plans used for the construction of Carson Park, home of the Eau Claire Express (summer collegiate; Northwoods League). It previously hosted minor-league baseball and a previous Prospect League team.

Because the ballpark was part of an area designated for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) relief, federal money would be used for repairs. But exactly how to proceed may depend on future usage. A clubhouse used by the Hoots was heavily damaged by flooding, as was a party deck. An estimate to restore the field to a playable condition for Prospect League play has been priced out at $600,000, but city officials are looking at a scaled-down installation costing just $12,000. From the Hannibal Courier-Post:

“There are a lot of things we’re going to have to make decisions on as a board here in the next couple of months in regards to Clemens,” said the city’s Director of Central Services Andy Dorian during the Sept. 19 meeting of the Hannibal Park Board. “FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the Hoots will play a factor in that.”…

The cost of the field’s grass will likely pale in comparison to the expense associated with repairing or replacing the water-saturated decking that surrounds the grandstands. The deck damage was so significant because when it was installed during the ballpark’s renovation the team’s initial ownership group chose not to use treated lumber, Dorian said in June.

It doesn’t sound like the future of Clemens Field is in danger, but chances are pretty good it will look more like a muni park rather than a summer-collegiate facility at the end of the day.

Photo by Mark Cryan.

RELATED STORIES: Prospect League Headed to O’Fallon’s CarShield FieldRascals Prep for Final Regular-Season Home Game; River City Rascals to Cease Operations

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