Saturday, September 15, 2012

View From Home Plate

"It's a beautiful day for baseball", as Joe Tait, the former announcer for the Cleveland Indians used to say for every game.  But for today, he would have been correct, it WAS a beautiful day for baseball.

Around 10:15 people started gathering at the corner of MLK Jr Blvd and South Graham Streets though not for a baseball game, but to witness the ground breaking ceremony for the BBT Field.  I was surprised, and excited at the turnout of well over 500 people.  I had an opportunity to talk with Parks Helm for a few minutes.  I couldn't tell if he were wiping the sweat from his brow having walked from his office in One Wells Fargo, or a tear in his eye from finally realizing a dream that was years in the making.

For over 10 years I have been running into Parks at various meetings concerning the relocation of baseball back into the center city.  I have an admiration for someone who has stayed focused for so long on this one project.  Parks is now out of the political limelight, I did not see his name in any publication reporting on the groundbreaking.  That said, if not for Parks and his efforts over the years, yesterday would not have happened.

Ballparks today, beginning with Camden Yards in Baltimore, are being built to be part of the urban fabric of a vibrant downtown.  The list is extensive, Progressive Field in Cleveland, CoMerica Park in Detroit, Minute Maid Park in Houston, etc.  Cellular Field in Chicago, home of the White Sox, ironically the parent team for the Charlotte Knights, was the last ballpark build in the "Donut" tradition, and it is like a fortress, not inviting.

The attached picture is from behind Home Plate and gives your an idea of the view that will greet the people in the stands.  The view is also representative of the Club Seats I have secured behind home plate, perhaps you can join me for a game some day, but the purpose of this story is to illustrate that BBT Field will become an integral part of the downtown scene, you will even be able to see into the park from Mint Street as you walk by.

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