MANSFIELD: League Park

City government — like its counterparts at the county, state and federal levels — does some things very well indeed. Running what should be a thriving business obviously isn’t one of them. The reality is this: City employees are not incentivized to come up with ways to increase traffic or attract more visitors to the site since there is no profit motive. Their pay is not going to increase or decrease in proportion to the amount of revenue an enterprise does or does not generate. So basically they don’t care.

What I’m referring to is the underuse of the gem of a facility in Ward 7 that was the crowning achievement of our dear departed Councilwoman Fannie Lewis: League Park. Or I should say the renovated League Park that was turned into a wonderful facility I happen to reside one block from on E. 66th St.

It’s obvious the city wasn’t really interested in the success or failure of the ballpark, since who builds a facility that is supposed to attract visitors and users and then fails to build a parking lot for it? And it’s not as if there isn’t land readily available; a number of vacant, city-owned lots sit right across the street from the front entrance to League Park. Something about this just doesn’t add up. It’s almost as if the folks at City Hall don’t want this facility to become successful, at least in terms of attracting visitors to the Ward.

Consider this: If you or I wanted to build a commercial enterprise of virtually any kind, one of the first questions that would have to be answered at a city planning meeting, before a building permit was granted, is: What are your plans for parking? And the city even goes so far as to tell developers how many parking spaces they need to provide, depending on the size and scope of the project, which makes sense. Then why did the city renovate League Park into a first-class facility and fail to provide parking for it? I’m starting to think this was not an oversight.

I’m now thinking that it’s because the people at the Parks Department of City Hall really don’t want anyone to use League Park. It’s similar to the feelings of National Park Service Rangers — they really don’t like visitors, and for one main reason: People are messy, and all too often a pain in the ass, and they sometimes don’t clean up behind themselves as well as they should, they break things. The simple fact is, if there were no visitors to our national parks they would be guaranteed to remain in pristine condition forever.

The folks at Parks obviously don’t care about attracting visitors to League Park, and some of the folks in the neighborhood are buying into the small-mindedness. I suspect the reason is that many of the teams that utilize the playing field are from suburban locations; they are not local residents. As much as I hate to admit it, some of my neighbors are clannish; they don’t like outsiders, especially if those outsiders happen to be white. Now, how petty and bigoted is that?

Of course, I’m going to catch hell for writing this, but someone has to speak truth to power and I guess that someone is me; but the good thing is, I’ve got big shoulders … I can carry the weight.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.

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One Response to “MANSFIELD: League Park”

  1. Bob Rink

    A great editorial, let me say. And right on point. As a long-standing baseball player/umpire/fan, I can attest to the heights of the facility, having played there, umpired there and watched my grandson play there with his high school team. But the unaddressed questions, in addition to yours related to parking, are: why is there no neighborhood baseball being played there; why do many white suburbanites still think you’re putting your life in jeopardy going down there; and how can we change this culture of ours that continues to use fear and racism to separate us? I live in Cleveland Heights and many whites to the east and west look upon my city as a suburb of Hough. I spent several years working at and attending the church right across the street from the park, beginning in the summer of the Hough riots. I ran a summer bible school program there accompanied by National Guardsman riding in Army jeeps equipped with machine guns fully loaded and ready to fire. This division and fear has to end. And baseball at League Park is a good way to start. PLAY BALL!

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