Kokomo — The big block of bleachers along the first base line of Highland Park Stadium kind of seems out of place, but it does serve at least one purpose — it blocks innumerable foul balls from traveling over to the South Side youth baseball diamond.
And the short porch, 270 feet out to right field?
Well, the old Kokomo baseball crowd calls it ambiance, a throwback to the days when baseball facilities weren’t cookie cutter clean, and managers had to agree on ground rules before the games.
One thing local baseball fans can agree on is that the stadium, once home to a minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Los Angeles Dodgers, is a piece of Kokomo history which must be maintained and cherished.
It hasn’t seen an update since 1985, when it hosted the American Legion World Series. That’s when the huge bank of bleachers was added, bringing the stadium’s capacity to around 3,000 fans.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight brought the stadium back into the spotlight last month, when he announced plans to renovate the facility during his annual State of the City speech.
“It was partially prompted by the last semi-state they had there, with Western, where we got some feedback about the parking, the restroom facilities and the press box,” Goodnight said. “The playing surface itself is perfect, but the facility itself is not what it used to be.”
Goodnight is putting together a commission, culled from the local baseball community, to come up with a set of recommendations.
When the city’s 2014 budget process gets underway in late summer, Goodnight said he’ll work to bring a plan to the Kokomo Common Council, to be funded next year.
The dugouts, the restroom facilities, the press box and the storage areas (which were meant to be used as locker rooms) are all issues which might be addressed.