Last year, Dallas struck out with a plan—led by then-Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson—that would have seen private operators turn Reverchon Park’s 100-year-old baseball field into a minor-league stadium and destination event venue.
Neighbors and some of the park’s most avid users called the foul ball. Nelson’s field of dreams would be too big, too loud, costing the park its identity as a public space and some of its most historic features.
No one disputes that many of those historic features, from the rotting bleachers to the ankle-breaking outfield, are badly in need of an expensive facelift. But many residents felt the city was trying to steal third base by handing the park’s restoration over to private investors without adequate public input.
Now the parks department is back at bat, working with a committee of folks who have a stake in the ballfield. The task force, convened by Park Board President Calvert Collins-Bratton, includes everybody from preservationists to neighborhood residents to amateur baseball leagues to Dallas ISD’s athletics department.
“We heard pretty clearly from the community early on that they’re not seeking a professional baseball-type stadium,” says Ryan O’Connor, an assistant director in the parks department. “They really were more interested in a sensitive, historic restoration project. So what does that mean? Does that mean we put in a new playing surface? Does that mean we restore the historic grandstands? Do we upgrade the dugouts? And so we have been working through the task force to kind of vet those parameters.”
This time, they hope their plan will be a home run. (I think I’ve got all the baseball puns out of my system now.)
“We want to give Reverchon a new life, a renaissance,” Collins-Bratton, the park board president, says. “There really is an appetite to see a rebirth of this ballfield. I think there is a way to keep that harmony between what has been there and its historic character—but updating it.”
That’s the big picture: Restore and polish the ballfield, rather than replace it. The finer details—grass vs. artificial turf, recessed or at-grade dugouts, an open air-pavilion or a concessions stand—are still being worked out.
So is the money. The parks department thinks restoration will cost about $5 million. The city has some leftover bond dollars it can dedicate to the project, and will seek to partner with Dallas ISD and other organizations to help cover the rest. If the parks department’s schedule pans out, we could see work start as soon as next year.
In the meantime, you can weigh in on what you’d like to see at the Reverchon Park ballfield here. A virtual meeting discussing plans for the park is scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m.
If you can attend, give it some consideration. That way, all of us can keep our eyes on the ball. (OK, that was the last baseball pun, I promise.)
* A version of this story appeared today in the LeadingOff newsletter.