It is not a challenged proposition that Juneau needs a new baseball field. With two high schools fielding softball and baseball teams and an American Legion Team, the need for a field is quite clear. The current dirt field at Adair Kennedy does not meet code and cannot host any tournaments. The dirt field is difficult to play on and unsafe. Yeah, Southeast Alaskan kids are tough, but I think they would exchange their muddy uniforms for clean ones if you gave them that option. A turf field, like the beautiful field in Sitka is something the local teams have been wanting for years. Check out the Facebook page “time for turf” for more information on that drive.
Since we do not have that field, I would propose a rather novel idea. I propose that a field of turf be laid some where downtown. Let me explain why that is a good idea.
The first thing to consider is the economic shot in the arm that a baseball tournament brings to a town. For every tournament that is held, it brings its players, coaches, parents, and fans into our community. They all will eat, sleep, and spend money while they are here. Being in the downtown area will make participants in a tournament central to all that. The existing restaurants, hotels, and visitor focused service’s are already there and would get and economic boost. If the Juneau convention center arguments makes sense, the baseball field idea complements it. Most tournaments last multiple days and the impact would be ongoing. There is also the chance that and a nice facility might draw a team to play in the Alaska Baseball League. Imagine the Juneau Capitals whipping some Goldpanner tail to win the Alaska League championship.
I used the analogy of shot in the arm on purpose. With the current COVID fund’s available for spending, could a plan to put a field downtown be elgible for funds.? We have a lot of waterfront between the bridge and the seaport where it’s too shallow for boats but could serve a creatively constructed ballpark .
What if the field could be constructed so that a home run could actually be hit over the fence and into the water? It would make for some epic stories.
The professionals have figured it out and it’s the reason they build there stadiums downtown. Baseball fields build community and should be located where they can best do that. The economic benefits are so obvious. If you can support this idea, now is the time to step forward and make this happen.
• Larry Johansen is a third-generation Alaskan writer, photographer and author. He recently wrote the book “The Golden Days of Baseball, The Story of Baseball Played in Frontier Alaska and the Klondike.” He lives in Juneau.