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Waste Watch: Homer Stryker Field

Updated: Friday, August 24, 2012 |
Waste Watch: Homer Stryker Field story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Kalamazoo's Frontier League baseball team, the Kings, folded before the 2011 season.

As a result, Homer Stryker Field hasn't had a major tenant since then, and hasn't seen a professional baseball game since the summer of 2010.

However, the City of Kalamazoo, which owns the field as part of Mayor's Riverfront Park, continues to spend tens of thousands of dollars to maintain the facility.

According to documents, the city is still getting use out of the field, but just not the kind it was renovated almost two decades ago for, and not the kind the Parks and Recreation Department would like.

"The big change is that it's provided some other baseball programs the opportunity to play here," said Frances Jewel, Parks and Recreation Director.

When the Kings were in town still, that's not something that would have been allowed.

The Kings played 43 games a season at Homer Stryker Field, and paid the city $15,000 to do so.

This year, the field hosted 40 games and events through the end of July, bringing in around $13,500 in fees.

From youth baseball to Kalamazoo College to the Annual Douglas Community Association Celebrity Softball Tournament, lots of groups wanted to use the field.

Parks and Recreation spent around $80,000 a year to maintain Homer Stryker for the Kings, but without the team, that number is down to $22,000, for what Jewel says are a number of reasons.

"There's no lights, there's no locker room, there's no water; we didn't staff their games, we just prepared the field," she said.

Part of the idea of keeping up the field even though the Kings are gone is about making the area attractive to interested leagues.

Jewel said the plan is to put out a request for proposal later this year, and that some leagues have already expressed interest.

The Northwoods League, which includes the Battle Creek Bombers, is looking to expand in Michigan.

League President Dick Radatz Jr. says that he believes a team from his league would be financially viable at Homer Stryker in a way the Kings weren't.

"It would be in their best interest, whoever 'they' is, to do their homework to be able to say--yeah, this is a good fit," said Jewel.

Jewel said she really wants a new team there, but even without one, her department will continue to spend money to maintain the field, "because it's an asset of the City of Kalamazoo."

From what Jewel told Newschannel 3, she believes the approximately $60,000 less she's spending on upkeep without the Kings is gone for good from her department's budget.

She says that means any new team coming in would have to work with the city to make maintenance happen without it.
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