By Ted AYALA
Stengel Field, which in recent years has seen its facilities fall into a dangerous state of disrepair, will soon be enjoying upgrades along with other parks in the city starting at the end of the year.
Glendale City Council approved awarding a contract to Parsam Construction, Inc. of Glendale to build new sets of playground equipment for Palmer Park and Pacific Park. They also approved a motion to advertise bids for demolishing Stengel Field Stadium. City staff estimates that the demolition of the structure would occur from December 2014 to March 2015.
The park’s built-in bleachers stayed open until June when the city closed off all but the first two rows.
In May 2013, the city passed maintenance duties of the park’s green space over to the Glendale Unified School District (GUSD). The city, though, retains control of the stadium.
Despite its condition, the field and some of its facilities remained in use throughout the years, with Glendale Community College (GCC) and Crescenta Valley High School (CVHS) using the park frequently for its respective baseball teams.
But events came to a head last year when Community Services and Parks Director Jess Duran warned the council that the threat the dilapidated structure posed to the public “cannot be ignored.” He was also quick to add that the green space was “totally unaffected.”
It was further noted that games played by GCC and CVHS can attract upwards of 1,000 spectators – far more than the meager seating the facility currently can seat.
The park is named after Casey Stengel, who was affectionately known by players and fans as “The Old Professor,” the New York Yankees coach who led his team to five consecutive World Series wins during the early 1950s. Stengel spent his last decades living in Glendale where he participated in the local community. He is buried at Forest Lawn.
According to a city report, it could take up to three years for the GUSD to find the funding to construct a new stadium on Stengel Field. Last year, City Manager Scott Ochoa said the district will be examining its fundraising abilities in order to determine whether it could gather enough funding to build a modern stadium or settle for permanent bleachers. Estimates for the cost for a new stadium hover around $8 million; the cost for permanent bleachers around $800,000.
“Based on the feedback [the GUSD] gets, they may aim for that higher number,” Ochoa said. “If not, then the worst case scenario is that they come back with something far more modest, but [still] permanent.”