Joe W. Davis Municipal Stadium is located at 3125 Leeman Ferry Road in Huntsville, Alabama.
The ballpark is named after a former Mayor of Huntsville who spearheaded the effort to bring professional baseball to Huntsville.
Constructed in 1985, it has been the home of the Southern League Huntsville Stars for the team’s entire existence.
The team’s name and logo is a nod to the city’s connection to space exploration. Both NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command at the Redstone Arsenal are located in the Huntsville area.
The ballpark was designed and built prior to the rebirth movement that swept professional baseball parks with the introduction of Camden Yards in 1992.
Thus, both the exterior and interior of Joe Davis Stadium are plain and functional, with little in the way of architectural flourishes.
Because the ballpark lacks any real je ne sais quoi, it truly harkens back to an earlier era when only the game on the field mattered.
The stadium’s dated structure also helps explain why the Stars wanted to relocate to a new facility.
Given the ballpark’s location in Rocket City, there certainly was ample inspiration for a space-themed baseball ballpark. Unfortunately, other than the Stars logo and Jet’s Pizza, there is very little in the way of space-themed concourse or ballpark offerings.
When the stadium opened in 1985, the Stars were an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.
In 1999, their affiliation switched to the Milwaukee Brewers, who have remained with the Stars ever since.
The ballpark faces northeast, providing an inspiring view of Monte Sano State Park.
Although intended primarily for baseball, the City of Huntsville designed Joe Davis stadium as a multi-purpose venue.
This accounts for the exceptionally long grandstand that runs along the third base foul line and wraps around to left field, while the first base grandstand stops opposite first base.
The ballpark can hold over 10,000 spectators, a size much larger than necessary for those who come to watch the Stars come out.
Built to include 15 sky suites long before such luxury boxes were the norm for minor league baseball, even that portion of the structure looks very much outdated.
The majority of the seats are uncovered, with shade provided only for those sitting in the grandstand running along first base.
Perhaps it is Joe Davis Stadium’s dated feel that makes me lament the departure of the Stars.
It remains a good place to watch baseball, with plenty of room to spread out.
For several years now the Stars have been looking for another venue in which to shine.
Perhaps knowing that the end was near, the City did not invest much in the stadium in the way of extras. Even the stadium scoreboard is perfunctory at best.
In January 2014, the Stars announced they were moving to a brand new ballpark being constructed in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Alas, 2014 was to be the last season of the Stars in Huntsville. However, construction shortfalls at the Biloxi site have delayed the team’s move to that ballpark for the start of the 2015 season.
It is unclear where the team will play to start the season, but apparently it will not be in Huntsville.
There are no current plans to demolish Joe Davis Stadium. Presumably the City could still use the facility for high school football games and the occasional monster truck rally. There is also talk of perhaps a new Southern League franchise locating to Huntsville in the next few years, should the city agree to construct a new, downtown ballpark. What does seem certain, however, is that come September 1, 2014, the days of professional baseball at Joe Davis Stadium will come to an end. And after that, it will be just a matter of time before the stadium becomes yet another lost ballpark.