Overhaul of Damaschke Field begins

Julie Lewis | The Daily Star Paul Young, project superintendent for Clark Companies, sights a line on a transit while surveying in front of the grandstand at Damaschke Field in Neahwa Park on Thursday.

The demolition of the grandstand at Damaschke Field began earlier in the week of Oct. 7 with the box seats being removed, according to Oneonta Outlaws Owner Gary Laing. 

Laing on Thursday said he is selling some of the seats and plans to auction off others, with proceeds going toward Oneonta Outlaws' general fund. Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig on Thursday said the existing seats will be re-purposed and made available to the public depending on the market for them. However, Herzig said, how this will be done hasn't been determined yet. 

The construction is being done by Clark Companies, Laing said. By Thursday, he said, all the dugouts had been removed. 

Herzig said the first step is to remove existing box seats and railings and the demolition of the entire grandstand will follow. The box seats along the first and third baselines will be replaced in time for the spring, he said.  

The project is being done in two phases, Herzig said. The first phase will be to demolish the grandstand and create a temporary backstop so the field is ready for use by the start of the 2020 baseball season. Full netting will be installed, which will protect all spectators from foul balls and flying bats, and some other upgrades will be made this year, he said. 

The second phase will be to replace the grandstand with a new facility that will include play areas for children. This phase won't be done until the 2021 season, he said. Herzig said the concept is to have a mixed-use facility containing some seats and an active area where people can picnic.  

"It'll be a combination of fixed baseball seats and more active areas so children and families can have a more active experience if they want," Herzig said. 

Herzig said the city has consulted with Laing, baseball architects, stadium architects and consultants and the overall consensus was a mixed-use area would be more desirable than fixed seats. 

"People are looking for a more active family experience when they go to a ballpark, not just rows of seats," Herzig said. "That's what we're going to look to provide in replacement of the old grandstand."

Laing said he is making a 6-foot cedar baseball bat picket fence to go in front of Damaschke Field. He said the process has been enjoyable and he's glad to be involved in planning. 

"It's been a lot of fun. It's just been a blast," Laing said. "And improving things down there so it can be used for multiple uses, and not just for baseball. The whole goal of this is to get more people in the park."

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

Recommended for you