Panama City may build baseball park

Panama City beat Pensacola out in getting Southwest Airlines. Now the city is looking to build a ballpark and has reached out to the ownership of Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League). Imagine a city actually wanting to build a ballpark—and not even having a team or local ownership yet. And the City is on the Florida Panhandle and smaller than Pensacola – 36,807 – (Read more).

The Huntsville Stars currently play in Joe W. Davis Municipial Stadium, which seats 10,200 and has 14 Air-Conditioned Skyboxes. It was built in 1985.

For Pensacola to attract the Stars or an affiliated team, we will need a bigger stadium than the 3,200 seats proposed. Studer has been approached by MLB teams, but unfortunately,Marty Donovan, Charlie Fairchild and Jack Nobles would block any such move to seriously attract affiliated baseball.

The delays – lawsuit by Strand and petition drives – have held up the maritime park, even though we held a referendum. Ballparks have been built since 2006 all over the south. Once again, we are being left behind.

The “baseball is bad” crowd needs to wake up and look around. Minor league baseball – both affiliated and independent – is thriving, especially in new downtown stadiums.

To get a Double A, affiliated team, Pensacola would need to get permission of the Mobile Bay Bears—which can be done because the teams pull from different markets. Think of a three-team rivalry along the Gulf Coast – Mobile, Pensacola and Panama City.

We need to build a bigger stadium – $20M-25M–or be sure the current design will allow expansion.

Where’s a strong mayor when we need one? Or would Marty, Charlie and Jack move to Panama City for a few years if we pay for the moving vans? Obviously Panama City needs their expertise.