HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — The city of Huntsville plans to renovate an old minor league baseball stadium into a facility that can be used for football and and other sports, possibly including a new professional soccer draw.
Officials unveiled plans to council members on Thursday to update Joe Davis Stadium, which used to be occupied by the city’s minor league team, news outlets reported. A new stadium built west of the city opened this year as home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas, which relocated from Mobile.
The city has discussed refurbishing the stadium for use by high school football teams plus other turf sports. City administrator John Hamilton said it could also help bring a new team to Huntsville.
“We anticipate being able to use this project as a catalyst to bring some commercial development to the northern end of John Hunt Park as well as the opportunity to bring a professional soccer team,” he said.
The old baseball seating capacity of 10,000 would be reduced to around 6,000, he said, and amenities including new lighting, updated seating, an improved scoreboard and new concession areas would be added.
Officials previously estimated the renovation would cost around $8 million. Hamilton said the city expects to award the construction bid in late summer, with construction starting in the fall and the first high school football games played in the stadium next year.
Some council members expressed surprise at the plan an alluded to the loss of the Stars, the baseball team that previously played at the stadium.
“So, we’re building this bigger, hoping that this professional soccer group will show up?” said member Frances Akridge.
Mayor Tommy Battle said the work would show owners of a potential new team that the city is serious. Officials can revert to less involved plans if the numbers don’t add up, he said.