Cleveland’s League Park Reborn – If You Renovate It They Will Come

Cleveland’s League Park Reborn – If You Renovate It They Will Come

There is good news in Cleveland. The former site of League Park – once home to the National League Cleveland Spiders, the American League Indians, the National Football League Cleveland Rams, and the Negro American League Cleveland Buckeyes – has been preserved and the historical portions of the ballpark that remain have been restored or renovated.

The renovation of main ticket booth of the League Park
League Park Renovation of Main Ticket Booth 2014

League Park Renovation of Main Ticket Booth 2014

The League Park Center in 2009
League Park Center Circa 2009

In August 2014, the City of Cleveland completed a renovation process, several years in the making.

A panoramic view of the League Park
Panoramic View of League Park Along Lexington Avenue

The former ticket booth and team administrative offices located at the corner of 66th and Lexington has been restored to its turn of the century beauty.

Second floor window and brick work renovation
Detail of Second Floor Window and Brick Work Renovation, League Park, Cleveland

In addition, along Lexington Avenue, the city has installed a forty foot high fence similar to the one that once stood along the back of right field at the time Shoeless Joe Jackson played for the Indians.

The recreated right field fence of the League Park Center
Recreated Right Field Fence League Park Center, From Days When Joeless Joe Jackson Played Right Field

The interior of the former ticket booth and administrative offices also has been renovated.

The first floor renovation for the League Park Main ticket booth and offices
First Floor Renovation of League Park Main Ticket Booth and Offices

Inside the ballpark site is a plaza along the first base side of League Park that helps celebrate the history of the site.

A panoramic shot of the first base side plaza
Panoramic Shot of First Base Side Plaza

On the wall where once sat the first base grandstand, the City has placed pictures of notable ballplayers who once played at League Park.

The League Park's first base grandstand
League Park First Base Grand Stand With Pictures of Notable Ballplayers

The plaza also includes a sidewalk with notable dates in the history of League Park.

Notable years in ballpark's history
League Park First Base Plaza Includes Notable Years in Ballpark’s History

The Ohio Historical Marker that since 1979 sat along Lexington Avenue next to the former ticket booth and administrative offices has been renovated and relocated near the right field corner.

A renovated League Park historical marker
Renovated League Park Historical Marker

Located in place of the first base grandstands (a portion of which actually remained at the site until about 2002) is a new one story building.

A new building of League Park's former first base grandstand
New Building on Site of League Park’s Former First Base Grandstand, Indian’s Club House, and Dugout

The building, and plaza in front of it, mark the site of Cleveland’s dugout and a tunnel that once provided player access to the club house.

The League Park first base grandstand and dugout tunnel
Circa 2003 Photo of League Park First Base Grand Stand and Tunnel From Dugout to Club House

The above photo from 2003 shows the location of the dugout steps and clubhouse tunnel. The photograph below shows the clubhouse tunnel as it existed in 2009.

The League Park tunnel from home team dugout to club house
League Park Tunnel from Home Team Dugout to Club House

A metal railing now outlines the location of the clubhouse tunnel inside the building constructed on top of the first base grand stand.

The building interior atop dugout and club house tunnel
Inside View of Building Constructed Atop Dugout and Club House Tunnel

The window at the center of the building, just to the left of the infield backstop in the picture below, marks the location of the clubhouse tunnel.

An artificial field area
Former Location of First Base Grandstand as Seen From Infield

The original infield, which by 2009 had been removed and replaced with just grass, is back in the form of turf.

The League Park infield in 2003
League Park Infield Circa 2003

Home plate sits in the same location as it once sat during the time of League Park.

A panoramic shot of the League Park turf field
Panoramic of League Park Turf Field

Metal bleachers surround the infield backstop.

Metal bleachers surrounding the infield backstop

The entrance to League Park along 66th Street includes an iron gate placed in the same spot where countless fans once entered the ballpark during its heyday.

The entrance to League Park on 66th Street
Entrance to League Park on 66th Street

The City of Cleveland has done a wonderful job restoring the first base grandstand outer wall as well.

The renovated wall along first base side of League Park on 66th Street
Renovated Wall Along First Base Side of League Park on 66th Street

The brickwork of League Park’s outer wall is quite exquisite and was worth saving even apart from the historic nature of League Park.

The details of the League Park brick work
Detail of League Park Brick Work, First Base Grandstand Outer Wall, 66th Street

Baseball once again will be played at the corner of Lexington and 66th. The City of Cleveland and the many baseball enthusiasts who helped encouraged League Park’s renovation have done a wonderful service not only for Cleveland fans, but also for fans of the game around the country. I always have felt that League Park was a historic site that any baseball fan traveling to Cleveland should see. Hopefully now with the park’s renovation, fans from around the country will stop by the corner of Lexington and 66th to see the wonderful gem that is League Park. With apologies to W.P. Kinsella, “if you renovate it, they will come.”

And speaking of Shoeless Joe Jackson, on your visit to League Park, be sure to make a stop at the vacant lot just two blocks East of League Park at 7209 Lexington Avenue.

A vacant Lot at 7209 Lexington Avenue
Vacant Lot at 7209 Lexington Avenue, Site of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Cleveland Home

On that spot once sat the home of Mr. Jackson, the place where he lived during his time with the Cleveland Indians. If only he had never left Cleveland . . .

Byron Bennett