As Shreveport moves forward on Fair Grounds Field demolition, costs to take down the dilapidated ballpark are higher because state law requires protection of a protected bat species infesting the facility.
The bats have called Fair Grounds Field home since the ballpark opened in 1986 as home of the Shreveport Captains (Class AA; Texas League). Over the years the ballpark was also home to the Shreveport Swamp Monsters (Class AA; Texas League), Shreveport-Bossier Sports (independent; Central Baseball League) and Shreveport-Bossier Captains (independent; American Association). The ballpark had design and construction flaws from the beginning; besides the bats, the ballpark was known for persistent water damage and being prone to flooding.
Since the Captains left after the 2011 season, the ballpark has sat empty, occupied by the aforementioned bats and a host of feral carts. Voters opposed a 2019 proposal to renovate the ballpark, and finally Shreveport officials are moving forward to tear it down, despite pleas to turn it over to a nonprofit. The cost of tearing the down the ballpark has been estimated to be $580,000 (up from estimates of $400,000 in prior years)–and $200,000 of that will be to remove the bats. From the Shreveport Times:
“When I came to work at the city, they were power washing every single day of the home stand because of the bats,” said [Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation director Shelly] Ragle. The stadium hasn’t been used since 2011.
She said the stadium has toxic levels of built-up bat excrement, called guano. She also said a lack of luxury suites makes it hard to profit from the stadium, which accrues a $5,000 monthly utility bill….
“Of course people want to save Fair Ground Fields. We all have a space in our hearts for Fair Ground Fields. But the thing is, it’s in a condition at this point where it’s not repairable.”
Since then, there’s been some serious deterioration in the facility. Bats (the flying kind, not the ones of the field) have infested the ballpark, and no one is safe from them — Tim Calderwood, [then] the voice of the Gary-SouthShore RailCats (independent; American Association), reports being hazed by one in the
press box in the Captain’s Club while preparing for his radio broadcast — and other parts of the ballpark are less than alluring, including the restrooms. After 25 years, the city will need to look hard and fast as to whether more money is put into renovations or whether a new facility is in order.
RELATED STORIES: Fair Grounds Field Could be Demolished; Reevaluating Fair Grounds Field after 25 years; College, prep games a big hit at Shreveport’s Fair Grounds Field; Captains unveil improvement to Fair Grounds Field; Mexican League operation pitched for Fairgrounds Field