For the first time in decades, there's no baseball team playing at Fair Grounds Field this summer. That's after the Shreveport-Bossier Captains moved to Laredo, following lagging game attendance. Since then, Shreveport Parks and Recreations officials have been working to keep the stadium in good shape, but they're up against a big opponent...bats.
"For 17 years, we've really been battling a problem with bats, and we're talking about the flying kind not the baseball kind," said Shelly Ragle, SPAR Director. For years, the constant stream of baseball fans and daily maintenance helped keep the bats at bay, but since there is no team on the field this year, it's not possible for the city to send crews every day. SPAR officials still come out at least twice a month to power wash the stairs and railings, but there are thousands of bats lodged within the walls, making it difficult to keep things clean.
This pesky problem comes with a big price tag, too. After trying remedies from Billy the Exterminator to fencing, SPAR willl have to pay half a million dollars to a removal company to guarantee the bats won't come back. On an empty field, not everyone is enthusiastic about spending that kind of money. "It is a conversation that the [City] Council needs to continue to have about where their priorities are for the city as we move forward," said Ragle.
The Shreveport City Council will address the problem in future sessions. Until then, crews will continue to do what they can, to get the right kinds of bats swinging at Fair Grounds Field again.