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Demolition of grandstands under way

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- A piece of Huntington sports history -- now a rotten, flood-ravaged piece -- is being torn down this week.

Demolition crews are razing what is left of the minor league baseball stadium grandstands at St. Cloud Commons.

The seats were removed and the wooden grandstands were closed at St. Cloud Commons more than two years ago because of safety concerns, said Kevin Brady, executive director of the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District.

"The entire structure was very dangerous," Brady said. "The grandstands and restroom building had been flooded numerous times in the past and had become dilapidated and not usable. The restroom building had, in fact, been closed for over five years."

The stadium was home to Marshall University baseball and three professional teams in the 1980s and 1990s. The Chicago Cubs dissolved their rookie league affiliate in 1994 as a cost-cutting measure after five years in Huntington. The Cubs' replacement, the River City Rumblers, lasted one season before the Appalachian League dissolved that team because St. Cloud Commons failed to meet minimum affiliated minor league standards.

The Huntington Rail Kings, an independent league team, folded after only 40 games in 1998 because of financial problems created by poor attendance and the lack of sponsors.

The field will continue to be used for the Park District's recreational softball league, and new fencing and metal bleachers will be installed where the grandstands were, Brady said.

"As we continue to make improvements at St. Cloud Commons, such as the completion of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health in that park, improvements to the play area, softball fields and the lodge building, we hope that the park will become more appealing to more people," he said.

Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter @BryanChambersHD.