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Travs, North Little Rock grapple with ballpark upgrades

Arkansas TravelersThe Arkansas Travelers (Double-A Central) and North Little Rock will use MLB’s new facility mandates as an impetus to guide Dickey-Stephens Park upgrades.

There are two levels of repairs and upgrades needed. The first is required to address a contract problem at the ballpark: persistent sinkholes and flooding. Sinkholes first 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 beganThe sinkholes reappeared in 2019. Since providing a working field is certainly the responsibility of the landlord–in this case, the city–North Little Rock will cover the approximately $5 million needed in field repairs.

The second level, of course, is to ensure the ballpark meets MLB’s new facilities. Opening in 2007, there’s a pretty good chance there’s a decent list of upgrades on the agenda, such as a women’s changing room and expanded clubhouses and workout facilities. Neither side is detailing the scope of the work yet, but those upgrades–set to be undertaken after the 2022 MiLB season–is expected to cost $11 million, but that list apparently includes a few upgrades outside MLB’s mandate, including a new videoboard. Who pays for that remains to be determined, per the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick said the city is in ongoing negotiations with the Travelers about the upgrades. The mayor said the city will likely fund the fixes to the field, which will cost around $5 million. Other improvements could cost around $11 million, [Travelers Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Rusty] Meeks said….

Who pays for the other improvements, including those for the clubhouse and scoreboard, is still up for negotiation, Hartwick said. Meeks would not comment on the specific upgrades that the Travelers are asking North Little Rock to pay for, saying only that it’s under negotiation.

“The Travelers are in discussions about these requirements with the city, but at this time the Travelers are not permitted to discuss the specific requirements outside of discussions with the city which is the owner of the facility,” Meeks said in an email.

RELATED STORIES: Sinkholes a long-term problem for Dickey-Stephens Park; Sinkholes Resurface at Dickey-Stephens ParkSinkholes dot Dickey-Stephens Park warning track

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