That lovely riverside location for Dickey-Stephens Park (Class AA; Texas League), home of the Arkansas Travelers, is turning out to be a mixed blessing: it’s unlikely sinkholes affecting the playing field will ever be totally eradicated.
The sinkholes are now linked to flooding of the Arkansas River, which runs between the North Little Rock ballpark site and downtown Little Rock. With another round of Arkansas River flooding in 2019, sinkholes appeared in the right field area of the ballpark. Those sinkholes were fixed, as was a retaining wall this year.
But after a study of the problem, North Little Rock officials say there’s little more to do at present to address long-term solutions. Arkansas River flooding is now linked to the sinkholes, and while there are a few ideas about mitigating the issue, it may just be a matter of fixing the sinkholes as they happen. From the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
Smith was the city’s governmental affairs director at the time the ballpark was being built in 2006-07, and he said designers knew from the start that sinkhole issues were a possibility.
“They knew it was an issue, but the powers that be wanted to be able to walk into the plaza,” he said. “Doing that made the stadium a lot more beautiful and unique, but when you build 12 feet deep a few feet away from the river, then the groundwater can be an issue.”
Designers thought they could work around the issue, Smith said, but the groundwater still found its way to the field. He noted that previous sinkholes appeared in different spots, so the issue might be something the city has to fix one piece at a time.
As noted, sinkholes have been an issue at the ballpark in the past. Sinkholes formed on the playing field in the months leading up to the 2016 season, prompting North Little Rock officials to invest in repairs to the ballpark that ultimately put the surface back into working order before the season began. The sinkholes reappeared in 2019.