Last Modified: Monday, July 09, 2012 7:26 PM
It seems like a natural fit for the area.
Warm summer nights, not much going on, empty ballparks in the city.
It would seem perfect for a team, any team, to come to Lake Charles and make a home for itself.
We’re not talking upper minor leagues, or even lower for that matter. Have to find the right place to play and the right people to play.
But there seems to be those out there who would love to see some team, any team, come into the area and play baseball in the summer.
Back in the day the minors were here, but that was long before expansion, satellite TV and the Internet. Now, you can get your fill of the game’s best at the touch of your fingertips.
Still, there is something missing from a town like this that loves its baseball but has nothing to pull behind in the summer days when the heat is sweltering, the mosquitoes are biting and the big fields remain empty.
I am not alone in this hope, either.
The Texas Collegiate League as recently as a year ago talked about expanding to Lake Charles or Beaumont, Texas.
The league, which is made up of college players, has seven teams and that’s not a good number. They could use an eighth.
With clubs in Alexandria and Lafayette, the Lake Area would seem to be a perfect fit.
“They came to us last year and talked about it,” said McNeese State head baseball coach Terry Burrows. “I would love to see it. It would be great for the area and for our players to have a place to play and we could keep an eye on them in the summer.”
However, Burrows is not willing to just turn his field over to others.
“I have reservations about that,” Burrows said. “We work hard to maintain our field so that would really have to be something to consider.
“But overall, this is a great area for baseball. I think the people would come out and support it. I hope they would.”
OK, so Cowboy Diamond is out.
While it may have been the most practical place to play, I wouldn’t consider it first. Too many folks might consider it an extension of the Cowboys, and we are looking for something everybody wants to embrace as a fresh season every summer.
That leaves us with a few other choices.
While it would need some work, Legion Field would be a nice starting place. It has history behind it and the field is in good shape. A little work on the press box and stands, and suddenly we have a place for the new team to call home.
Granted, it’s a little hard to get to and the team facilities are not the best, but we are not starting at the top here. We are just looking for a place to lay down a few seeds and see what grows.
If not Legion Field there is always McMurry Park in Sulphur.
The field is great, the drive easy and the entire facility has proven to be more than able to handle a big event.
That’s where the Pro Fastpitch softball championships were held the last two summers with mixed results.
The first year it was a smash hit, last year it struggled. But when the U.S. National team played there a few years back, the place was packed.
Expectations are high for this weekend’s Battle on the Bayou.
The city of Sulphur has proven it can handle big sporting events. Every year the state’s softball elite come to town for their championships and baseball played four of its title tourneys there this year.
Who knows how many people would be willing to go watch a team of their own for the summer months if we got one.
While I like both those places as short-term answers, the real solution seems to be sitting just off the lake in the downtown area.
It’s there where Lake Charles officials, all of whom claim they want to bring the downtown and lakefront back to life, would patch out enough grass for a spiffy stadium for all to enjoy.
If you are looking for a little extra cash, call up the Speaker of the House, he seems willing to toss a few bucks around for the right cause these days.
But seriously, nothing could help bring people back downtown than a good stadium and a few games to watch. The facility could be used in the fall for playoff football games and in the spring for a high school tournament or two.
And on the Fourth of July, it could serve as the perfect place to watch the fireworks over the lake while selling concessions to help pay for the event.
It would also be the right place to have as a centerpiece for the city.
“I would love to see something like that,” Burrows said.
Yes, this might be a little much but a new facility like that could lead to bigger things down the road, like an eventual minor league franchise.
A lot would have to happen before that, but at least we might be closer to having a team than we think.
The fact people have had talks in the past is a start.
It does feel like a perfect fit, even if the dream sounds a little extreme.
Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at email@example.com