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Public Hearing for Joe Becker Stadium - KOAM TV 7

Public Hearing for Joe Becker Stadium Postponed

Updated:

Updated January 6, 2014:

The city of Joplin has postponed the public hearing on Joe Becker Stadium until Tuesday at 6 p.m. The council meeting is also postponed until Tuesday at 6 p.m.

OFFICIAL RELEASE FROM THE CITY OF JOPLIN:

The City of Joplin is considering renovations to Joe Becker Stadium and the City Council has placed a Public Hearing to hear from citizens on this project for its January 6 Council Meeting.  The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and is held in the Council Chambers on the fifth floor of City Hall, 602 South Main. The public should use the west entrance to the building.

In the past few months, the City Council has heard discussions regarding WLD Suarez Baseball, L.L.C., the general managers of the El Paso Diablos, having an interest in moving the team to Joplin. The development proposal of $9.3 million includes $4 million for stadium renovations and $5 million investment by the Suarez Group for commercial growth and improvements within the stadium's surrounding areas including an entry plaza and parking areas. The plaza could include development of various family venues, including restaurants offering pre- and post-game dining options and activities.

The City's upgrades of Joe Becker Stadium would include new seating, new lights for night play and new restrooms. Joplin Parks and Recreation Director Chris Cotten has also noted that renovations to concession area and the press box would be necessary.

At its December 16, 2013 meeting, the Joplin City Council passed a Memorandum of Understanding indicating continued work with the management group to bring the professional ball team to Joplin. 

Cotten has been seeking new "tenants" for the historic stadium for several years now. The Suarez Group has been looking for a new city where their team could play ball since a major league team announced moving its minor league affiliate to the El Paso, Texas area.  The Diablos had been filling the seats but with this announcement, and the City of El Paso's agreement to build a new stadium for the Triple A team, the Diablos attendance began to dwindle. The Suarez Group began its search for another home of the Diablos, an American Association of Independent Professional Baseball team. Other area teams in this group include the Kansas City T-Bones and Wichita Wingnuts which played an exhibition game at Becker in May 2013.

Joplin City Council is interested in hearing from the public on this project prior to establishing a performance agreement and lease of the stadium with the team owners. 

Built in 1913, Joe Becker Stadium played host to such greats as Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Joe Garagiola, and Ken Boyer. The stadium was Mickey Mantle's home ballpark during his second year of professional baseball when in 1950 he played for the Joplin Miners. Since then, the historic stadium has endured two fires, one in 1936 and one in 1971.

Today the Stadium has a seating capacity of 2,000, and serves as the ball field for area teams at various levels, including semi-pro, amateur, collegiate and high school.

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