Take Me Out to the Ballpark
Will local baseball make a comeback?
Mayor Adrian Perkins announced plans for a new multi-sports facility at the Louisiana State Fair Grounds that would bring independent professional baseball and other events to Shreveport.
The project is a partnership between the city and REV Entertainment, Perkins announced at a news conference Oct. 17.
“We are on the threshold of transformation and invite the citizens of Shreveport to help us revitalize the 180 acres at the Fair Grounds,” he said. “We are going to build a new state-of-the-art facility that houses baseball, other sports and entertainment.”
The city has engaged several community stakeholders in the project’s development stage, including the State Fair of Louisiana, the Independence Bowl, the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, the Shreveport Mudbugs and the Queensborough Neighborhood Association.
The city also launched a website, https://reimagine.shreveportla.gov/, to gather community input on the project.
“We are making a commitment to move Shreveport forward,” Perkins said.
REV Entertainment is based in Arlington, Texas, and serves as the exclusive events partner to Globe Life Field, which is home to the Texas Rangers. REV Entertainment also works with Choctaw Stadium in Arlington and other facilities around the country, “bringing new business and driving revenue to venues of all sizes,” according to the company’s website.
“The opportunity to work with the city of Shreveport, its residents and its business leaders is a great point of pride for our team,” said Sean Decker, president of REV Entertainment. “We are thrilled to bring not only baseball back to Shreveport but to also use sports as an anchor for development and a catalyst for entertainment. We are excited to work alongside the community to dream big together, and we can’t wait to start bringing this shared vision to life.”
Perkins called REV Entertainment “the perfect partner to help us achieve what the people of Shreveport deserve.”
“We realized after our first meeting with REV Entertainment that we found someone who can help move Shreveport sports into the future,” he said. “They have matched our enthusiasm for this project and encouraged us to dream even bigger. I am confident they can help bring our collective vision to life.”
Decker said he has been impressed with what he has found in Shreveport.
“I’ve never seen a place that moves with this kind of passion, speed and excitement for what’s going on,” he said. “The common theme came to ‘dream bigger.’ We’ve had a number of listening sessions and a number of meetings. To sit and hear the thoughts and visions and opportunities to dream bigger is exciting.”
Perkins appeared on “The Tim Fletcher Show” sports talk radio program Oct. 21 to discuss the announcement.
Perkins said on the program that initial estimates for the project total about $70 million. That includes about $30 million for a state-of-the-art 2,500- to 3,000-seat stadium, with room to expand in the future. The other $40 million would include hotels, restaurants and related developments. He addressed an array of concerns on the air. One of those was safety concerns in the area around the fairgrounds.
“That is a very dangerous narrative in our city,” Perkins said during the broadcast. “We’ve got thousands of fans that come to Mudbugs games. Thousands who come to the State Fair. To the Independence Bowl. We are very confident people coming to the new stadium and other developments will feel safe.
“Besides, how are we going to improve the neighborhood if we don’t invest in it?”
Perkins said at the news conference that no discussions have started about a league the new independent team would join. The Pecos League included three teams from Texas -- the Apline Cowboys, the Austin Weirdos and the Weimar Hormigas -- in the 2022 season. Officials said there is potential to move from an independent team to a team affiliated with a Major League Baseball team as support for baseball grows in Shreveport.
The last time the Shreveport Captains played in Shreveport, they were an independent league team. Perkins said that changes in the local economy elevate the prospects for viability for independent baseball.
“Because our economy is different, people have more dollars to spend,” he said. “Our economy was nothing like it is today. People didn’t have the dollars to go out and support the park. Today, our economy is growing much faster. We know a lot of our citizens have to go to Dallas and Houston for entertainment. We want to be able to park those dollars right here at home.”
The facility also could be used for college and high school baseball, as well as other sports and events, officials said at the news conference.
“Baseball will be the anchor,” Decker said. “But with what we want to do in this community, this has to be complementary.
“I came and umpired in the facility across the street,” Decker said of Fair Grounds Field. “It was renowned for the best food in the league. We are so excited about being a part of bringing that back to Shreveport.”