SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Thursday at the Savannah City Council meeting, $46,730.00 from the Capital Improvements Fund was allocated to repairs for historic Grayson Stadium.
The money was approved for welding services provided by L&H Welding located in Ellabell, GA. The services will be for things like the fabrication and installation of brackets to the bleachers in Grayson Stadium. They will fabricate and install a new handicapped rail along the third base line as well as new hand rails on all concourse steps leading up to the grandstand.
According to a purchase summary, many of the issues were highlighted in a Fall 2018 structural report from Collins Engineering. The summary also indicated a delivery of “net 30 days” for the services.
The city performs routine inspections that help identify areas that need maintenance. According to the council agenda, during this year’s pre-season inspection, the staff found needed repairs they deemed necessary for the successful operations of Grayson Stadium. They reported that 14 percent of the bleacher brackets need to be repaired and re-fabricated before the start of the season on May 30. That first pitch is set for 7:00 p.m. versus Macon.
The Bananas say these improvements are crucial to their success.
“Just making sure that overall it’s a safe place for people to come. I mean, again, this is an older ballpark, so there are certain things that have just been outdated," Savannah Bananas President, Jared Orton, explained. "The city is putting a big emphasis that this is a safe place to come.”
With high school and college baseball season underway and the Bananas season coming up, the council ordered and approved an emergency procurement of the funds via the general fund for the repairs. The council stated that, “The normal procurement process does not allow sufficient time to order materials, and complete the necessary maintenance items prior to the beginning of the season," which is why it was deemed “emergency”.
The stadium was built in 1926 and is a Savannah landmark.
The stadium was originally called “Municipal Stadium." President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke at the stadium in 1933. In 1941, the stadium saw major renovations and reconstruction after a hurricane destroyed it. Spanish-American War veteran General William L. Grayson led the efforts to get the money to rebuild, which is how Grayson Stadium got it’s name.
In 1959, the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds played an exhibition game at Grayson. Among the Yankee players that day was future Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle. Babe Ruth Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Jackie Robinson have all taken the field during their minor league days.
“Obviously, the city has a ton of pride in the stadium. We have a ton of pride in here and it just gives the fans that experience that they’re looking for when they come to historic Grayson Stadium and come to a Bananas game,” Orton added.
The stadium won’t lose any of it’s charm, but it will be safer and updated for the fans this year.
“Four thousand people every single night, we’ve got to make sure they have a great experience, so that’s clean bathrooms, fun places to sit, great parking," Orton told WTOC. "Those are the experiences that they’re looking for and the city just continues to make sure that when their fans are coming to this stadium - that it’s an amazing experience for everybody, because over 115,000 people will be here this summer and so it’s got to be a place where at least they can enjoy and enjoy that summer experience.”
If you’re looking for a reason to visit historic Grayson Stadium, tickets are now on sale for Georgia Southern vs. College of Charleston baseball on April 3. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.