Yet Again, The Question Is Asked: Is This the End of Fort Worth Cats' LaGrave Field?

Categories: Sports
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Speaking of the Texas League, or, at least, teams once affiliated with the mighty Texas League ...

The Star-Telegram notes today that come January 3, LaGrave Field and the land around the Fort Worth Cats' ballpark -- valuable land too, as it sits between downtown and the Fort Worth Stockyards -- will be auctioned off on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse. It would appear that one week ago, and for the second time, Amegy Bank has put the ballpark into foreclosure. I too have tried to reach Cats majority owner Carl Bell; should he make contract, we'll update accordingly. But front-office employees with whom I spoke this morning are understandably nervous; they too have been given the "no comment" by team higher-ups and something more tangible, some glimmer of better news before the holiday.

For now, all they have is Bell's comment posted to the ballclub's website. He writes, in part:
"The Fort Worth Cats are currently involved in negotiations with serious parties regarding the transfer of ownership and the future of the baseball team. We are also working , as we have been for the past four years, towards ensuring the long-term preservation of Historic LaGrave Field, where the Cats first played baseball in 1926.

"Both of these efforts are still very much a work in progress, which has been hindered by the challenges of the current financial climate. While we have received strong support the past few years from the community of Fort Worth and our fans, other support that was promised and counted on has fallen short of our expectations."
He goes on to scold the American Association for dropping the team -- one of its founding teams, no less -- in October, when it declined to re-up in the face of financial adversity. As recently as one month ago the team vowed to play ball next season. But will it? And if so, then ... where? At this very moment, no doubt, Bobby Bragan is looking down and praying for extra innings.

Update at 12:20 p.m.: The Cats have sent word, via Facebook, that there will be a "Big announcement for the Cats today.......details forthcoming.....GET READY FOR BASEBALL IN 2012!" Word is there's new local ownership, but, per Bud Kennedy of the Star-Telegram, the stadium will have to be sold separately.

Update at 12:56 p.m.: Cats spokesman Bric Shelton tells Unfair Park: A group of locals are buying the club, "including former Rangers prez Mike Stone; John Bryant; Byron Pierce; and others affiliated with United Baseball League." The stadium is not part of the deal. Many Friends of Unfair Park may recall that Bryant and Pierce were behind that long-ago proposed minor-league ballpark planned on the banks of the Trinity River in downtown Dallas.

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5 comments
Dal Worthington
Dal Worthington

That park is the coolest cause of the Fort Worth skyline and Trinity levee backdrops. 

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

One of (many) problems here is that Carl Bell built the ball park first, and didn't appear to make a serious effort to solicit public financial participation until after it was complete.

Of course, once the ball park was built, it makes it much more difficult for a public entity to, in essence, donate money to a private party in recognition of his prior good works (building the park).

The right way for him to have approached this in the first place would have been to commit to a level of financial support of $X to build the park, contingent on some level of financial support from the public sector.

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