The Full Story: Bringhurst Field's future still uncertain

Published: Aug. 29, 2016 at 6:44 PM CDT
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After years of uncertainty, one of Alexandria's oldest and most beloved venues’ future is still unknown.

Bringhurst Field has been a part of Alexandria for over 80 years, and now after being out of use for several years the ball park has become sort of an eyesore and is starting to crumble.

It's one of those places nearly every Alexandria native has a memory of, or a story to tell.

"Satchel Paige has been here, Dizzy Dean about twice," said Jodie White, who is concerned about the ballpark’s future.

Bringhurst Field's future is uncertain, and in the meantime is starting to crumble.

"I don't want to see it torn down, I never have wanted to see it torn down," said White.

Bringhurst was the home of America's pastime in Alexandria for more than 80 years.

"Professional baseball that went through it and all the great high school games that played there and state tournaments, all-star games, and everything that went on at Bringhurst,” said Mike Byrnes, former Aces General Manager and current Louisiana College baseball coach. “Just a lot of great memories at Bringhurst ball park."

The ballpark opened up in 1934, home to the then new Evangeline League team, the Alexandria Aces.

"We sent a lot of people to the big leagues. Hal Newhouser in 1938, my uncle Les Mueller in 1938, Virgil Trucks 1938," said White.

The Aces nickname has been synonymous with Bringhurst throughout the ball park's history. The team made several comebacks after many hiatuses over 80 plus years.

The last time the Aces took the field was in 2013, when the season came to an abrupt end. Low attendance and the stadium's poor condition ended the season, the last time baseball was played at Bringhurst. Since then, the stadium has been vacant-showing the signs of aging and lack of upkeep.

In December 2014, the home side club house burned down. Jodie White has been a part of the ballpark his whole life, and was one of the first ones at the scene.

"All the records we had are gone, that's what bothered me the most," said White.

For White, Bringhurst is nearly 80 years of memories, but he doesn’t want these to be his last.

"When people who played here in the 30s and 40s they bring their grandchildren and they've called me before wanting to go through and let their grandkids see where they played ball,” said White. “To me that's worth a lot more than going to a parking lot."

Back in August 2014, the city discussed possible plans for Bringhurst during its recreation summit-including tearing it down for zoo expansion and green space, also building a new ballpark as well as renovating the current one. Now two years later, it's still at square one.

"Well I mean there is no timetable,” said Daniel Williams, Alexandria’s Director of Community Services. “It's kind of one of those things you don't want to put a timetable on it because you want to be able to act accordingly and act smart with the things you're doing."

"It's really on the backburner right now,” said Lee Rubin, City Council President. “There is so many things going on right now in the recreation field that we need to finish those things up."

In May 2014, the city passed a recreation millage to improve the zoo and add recreation across the city. The city said they're focused on improving Johnny Downs Recreation Complex, adding tennis courts and a dog park to City Park as well as more programming across the city.

"If you look at the price tag for all the projects we've already done including tennis, dog park and Johnny Downs those kind of equal to Bringhurst,” said Williams. “So if you're looking at the use and priority use I think those things are very important right now."

Of the proposed concepts for the park, the city is leaning towards a multi-use facility for youth sports from baseball to soccer, as well as concerts and other events.

"You can use it to where you can use it 365 days of the year and not just used some parts of the year," said Williams.

For Rubin, a stand-alone baseball field is unlikely.

"Because that's been tried many times and unfortunately we just don't have the support for baseball in this area," said Rubin.

"Multi-use is a great thing as long as they don't tear it down," said White.

White wants the future of the park to still have the "spirit" of Bringhurst - keeping the front entrance with maybe a museum or commemoration of the old ballpark.

"As long as we can keep it looking like this,” said White, as he points to the front entrance. “There is nothing wrong with this entrance we can paint it and we've painted it a bunch of times as you can see."

"Whatever we end up doing with that property, Bringhurst will be commemorated in that plan," said Rubin.

For a place with such a storied past, the future is unknown.

"Show us what your plans are and I'm sure everyone in the group I'm talking to would be happy,” said White. “But there is no show of plans."

The pastime of generations, falling victim to the passing of time.