Originally Published: August 19, 2018 10:43 p.m.
PRESCOTT — Twenty years ago, the historic concrete stands on the southwest side of Ken Lindley Field were covered with Trex composite decking, which made way for patio seating where softball and soccer fans could sit at picnic tables and buy goodies from a small concession stand.
Over the past several months, however, City of Prescott employees and a construction crew have been busily removing the entire deck and refurbishing the steel-reinforced concrete stands underneath.
The grandstand, which rests on the southwest corner of West Gurley and Washington streets and has a capacity of 200 to 300, was originally built in the early 1930s as part of a Civilian Works Administration (CWA) project in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program.
On Friday, Aug. 17, City of Prescott facilities manager Mic Fenech, historic preservation specialist Cat Moody, recreation services director Joe Baynes and longtime local architect Bill Otwell visited the field to mark the near completion of the refurbishment project.
“I’m the one who suggested they actually remove the thing [deck] about five months ago or so,” Moody said from the stands under partly cloudy skies as a monsoon rain shower dissipated last Friday afternoon. “I met up here with Mic and Joe, and they were saying, ‘What should we do with this?’ And I suggested that they restore it back to what it was underneath.”
Their goal of making the stands accessible to fans before the Yavapai College men’s soccer team’s 2018 season home opener on Aug. 25 has been met. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the college, established in 1968 at the corner of West Gurley and Sheldon streets.
Fenech, facilities superintendent Ted Hanneman, facilities specialists Peter Weisel and Robert Cummings, and facilities technician Allen Garcia played integral roles in the reconstruction.
“It’s really primarily Mic Fenech and his facilities staff [who did the bulk of the work],” said Otwell, a consultant for the project.
Otwell performed the assessment for the grandstand’s facelift. He said the current project was made easier by the architects who designed the Trex decking in 1998 and 1999. That’s because their work was reversible if the concrete stands were brought back in the future, Otwell added.
“When Cat wanted to restore it back to the original, Mic’s crew was able to do that just by removing things,” Otwell added.
“They hadn’t done any damage to the original historic fabric. They had just added things on so it was very easy for it to be reversed, which usually doesn’t happen.”
However, Fenech said hundreds of countersunk bolts that held the deck in place and were sticking out from the concrete had to be sheared off to restore the stands.
“We had to excavate a little of the concrete around it and get it down below the surface so that when we patched it and sealed it, and then coated it, it would never come back up,” he added about the bolts. “And you can’t tell where any of them are. They [crew members] did a beautiful job.”
The grandstand, modeled in the vein of the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s, has an undeniable charm.
Underneath the concrete stands rests the Yavapai College men’s soccer team’s locker room, which 30th-year coach Mike Pantalione has kept as both a meeting place and a kind of shrine to the seven-time NJCAA Division I junior college national champion Roughriders.
Trophies, jerseys and framed photos, among other myriad program memorabilia, adorn the cramped, yet cozy, room. The Roughriders played their inaugural match at Lindley Field in September 1989 versus Victor Valley Community College, a 13-0 win. The victory was a harbinger of the program’s success.
Since then, Yavapai has won 95 percent of the matches it has played at Lindley Field, compiling winning streaks of 58, 56 and 39 games through the years.
On the outside, the grandstand’s walls are painted with a crème-colored tan, and gray concrete steps separate the two halves of the stands. Brick-red painted stripes cover every other step leading down toward the Lindley Field grass. Railings were erected in the middle of the stands and down both sides, for safety.
A couple of steps were also added in the middle of the stands, as was wheelchair accessible seating near the entrance to the stands on the corner of West Gurley and Washington streets. The bathrooms at the entryway, which were also redone in this latest project, have been ADA accessible since the 1990s.
In front of a short wall at the base of the stands is where home plate used to be for softball and baseball games, but it was later shifted to the southeast corner for safety reasons. These corners are two of the four corners on the soccer field.
“I’m just really happy that we were able to restore it close to its original luster,” Baynes said. “They did things right back in the mid-’30s.”
WORTH THE WORK
Baynes and one of his managers, Mike Carr, conducted the demolition of the patio and the removal of wood.
Fenech credited that crew for doing the work “quickly, neatly and beautifully” before turning over the rest of the job to his facilities team. Baynes added that the city budgeted less than $25,000 for the grandstand’s refurbishment.
In 1994, 60 years after the southwest grandstand was built, Lindley Field was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The field is part of a historic district that includes the entire park that houses it, the nearby Armory (built by the Works Project Administration in the late 1930s), the Smoki Museum (built by the CWA) and Citizens’ Cemetery, Moody said.
Formerly known as City Park, the city renamed it Lindley Field to honor the memory of police chief Ken Lindley, an avid softball player and coach from 1950-71 who died in the line of duty in the early 1970s. Ada Joslin donated the land to the city for City Park in 1922, although it had been a public park since 1908, Moody added.
Baynes, who can see the grandstand from his office window a block away, recognizes the significance of the work that was done.
“It’s been really rewarding for me to see this transformation,” he said.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.