Minor league baseball could be one step closer to returning to Fort Worth.
There's a new deal in place to renovate LaGrave Field. The Fort Worth Cats were disbanded in 2014. Since then, the park has been vacant, is overrun with weeds and in disrepair.
The old field is minutes away from Downtown Fort Worth. It used to be a hangout for families, a place for games, events and concerts. The Save LaGrave Foundation says it could all happen once again as early as next year.
A long history lies within LaGrave Field dating back to 1926.
Scott Berry is the former minority owner of the Fort Worth Cats Minor League Baseball team. He says a downturn in the economy meant the end of the team in 2014 when the field was abandoned.
“It’s a really sickening feeling to see the ballpark in disrepair, to see the field both in disrepair and nobody playing,” Berry said.
Jim Lane is on the board of the Tarrant Regional Water District.
“And ever since then, I’ve tried my best what little I could do to try to bring it back,” he said.
Those efforts are finally on paper.
Under the tri-party deal, the Water District will take ownership of LaGrave Field from Panther Acquisition Partners. In exchange, PAP will get a different piece of land to develop on the river.
The Save LaGrave Foundation will then lease the field for 40 years, pay to renovate the 4100 seat stadium and bring back a minor league team to play a minimum of 45 games per season.
“A lot of people worked extremely hard to get the deal done,” Lane said.
Berry says he’s committed to resurrecting the Cats and sees the return of the field as just the beginning of a Panther Island facelift.
“I’ve probably had four or give developers call who said, ‘if you can get this across the finish line, you know we’re gonna be interested in developing around the ballpark,’” Berry said.
Renderings from the Trinity River Vision Authority include 800 acres of mixed-use space with restaurants, apartments and businesses all around LaGrave.
For Lane, the new agreement paves the way to pass down a cherished tradition to the next generation.
“We all grew up coming out here to the north side to where that stadium was,” Lane said. “I mean it’s the magic of it. It’s magical!”
Berry says a team could be in place within a year and be ready for the 2020 season.
The deal does have a clause. The levees would need to be lowered within 10 years or PAP could take back the stadium. The final decision on lowering the levees is up to the Army Corps of Engineers.