With the abundance of park land in the city of St. Louis, it's hard to believe there would be shortages of playing fields. But in the area of quality baseball fields for adult/varsity games, it's true.
High school teams have few options. Across Cass Avenue from the new Vashon High School, at the Senator Jet Banks city park, there is a new full size diamond, built in part through support of the Cardinal Care organization.
In South City, I am wracking my brain to think of any varsity fields available for public school use. The only one I can think of is at "The Greens" on River Des Peres. The Green's field is a nice one, with dugouts, and outfield fencing and a grass infield.
Unfortunately, The Greens is located in a low lying area and as a result often suffers from flooding and can be unplayable in good weather. With the amount of rain St. Louis gets in spring in summer, it's important for baseball fields to have good drainage. The other downside with the Greens is that the field lacks lighting for night games. Since there are lots of nearby homes, installing new night lighting can raise concerns from neighbors.
It appears there may be an opportunity to upgrade an existing facility. Sandwiched between the city compost pile, Interstate 55 and the railroad tracks which cut through Carondelet Park on the east side of Grand Avenue, is the location for the new South City Recreation and swim center. The facility is nearly complete and makes for an excellent entrance into the city. Adjacent to the new recreation center is a large field which for years has housed two little league sized ball fields. With the construction of the new community center, these diamonds have been unused this entire season.
The area is large enough to build a quality, full-sized, varsity/adult baseball field. It features a natural hillside between the community center and the athletic field for spectators. It has a beautiful stone restroom building and quality lighting for night play.
What if this field were upgraded to complement the new community center with a first class baseball field? There would be no neighbors to complain about night games. It would bring more traffic to the area. Local high schools could have one more field for home games. And it could become a regional draw serving as home field to host St. Louis area amateur baseball tournaments.
An upgraded baseball field at Carondelet Park would expand the positive impact of the new community center, make a perfect compliment to historic Heine Meine field in Lemay, The Greens, and the baseball field being constructed at St. Mary's High School. Together, the four fields would position the City of St. Louis to compete in hosting high school tournaments from across the midwest.
Championship games could be held at the improved Carondelet Park field, with banquet and award ceremonies held inside the new Rec Center. Both facilities would be owned by the City of St. Louis and serve as an added source of pride and recreational opportunities for city and regional residents.
Stay tuned. Follow up conversations to explore the feasibility of this concept with local leaders, the operators of the new community center, and the city parks department will be sought to update this post.