Asbestos and an electrical fire were among the issues that workers had to deal with in the demolition of the local stadium.
By Brandon HENSLEY
tengel Field will look much different for the foreseeable future once it reopens in the fall, but plans are already underway for what a remodeled stadium could look like.
The city of Glendale is planning for the venerable field, located at Verdugo Park, to reopen in either August or September after demolition debris has been cleared, said city spokesperson Tom Lorentz.
The entire infrastructure, including stands and the clubhouse, has been razed and workers are now in the clean-up part of the process. Except for a minor electrical fire that was “part of the demolition anyway,” Lorentz said progress is going according to plan, but did say workers have discovered asbestos, which could put a dent into how long the rest of the clean-up goes.
“[The city is] going to have to have a specialist remove and abate the asbestos,” he said. “It tells you how old the building was if we still have asbestos.”
In place of stands, three sets of aluminum bleachers will be situated around the field for fans to watch games. The field itself is being preserved. Stengel opened in 1949 and is the home of the baseball teams for Glendale Community College and Crescenta Valley High School.
The last game played before the demolition was the Babe Ruth District 4 Championship game in late May between Glendale/La Crescenta Crippen Mortuary and the La Cañada Royals. Glendale won 7-2.
The decision to demolish the area was made because the cost to renovate was estimated between $3 million and $7 million. Triangle Enterprises of Burbank was hired to conduct the demolition for roughly $450,000.
Once everything is cleared away and the aluminum bleachers are in place, the next phase of fundraising for a new stadium will begin. One of the leaders in that area will be the non-profit organization The Stengel Field Foundation, led by President Bryan Longpre.
The foundation has raised some funds already, but will ramp up the outreach in the coming months when the field is operational again.
“It’s difficult to ask for donations when you don’t have a clear vision of what the new field would look like,” said Longpre, a former Crescenta Valley High baseball player.
The foundation has begun to work with architecture students at GCC on a project to build a model for the new stadium.
“We wanted to engage the community and we figured there’s some real life learning tools we could give these students to work with,” Longpre said.
Longpre and his board of directors will have some input as to how the model may look. Ultimately, because the field is owned by the city, it will have the final say on how the structure will look. What Glendale students and the foundation come up with may not be the actual model.
“But I would imagine they’re going to take some of our input as community members,” Longpre said.
Longpre was told that simply building back the same structure as before it would cost around $7 million. This means fundraising and planning for a new stadium will most likely be a multi-year endeavor.
Longpre said it would be easier to coordinate fundraising by incorporating efforts from the city, GCC, GUSD and the foundation. If the Glendale College students could make a 3D model of their design, that would help to show the foundation’s plans to potential donors.
“We want a stadium that the community can be proud of,” Longpre said. “We want to rebuild a historical landmark. It’s a shame what happened and a shame to see it as a just another rec league park, because it means a lot more to people in the community.”
For more information on the foundation, visit savestengel.org or on Facebook by searching “Save Stengel.”