Historic Austin ballpark to get much-needed renovations

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – It is a field that has hosted some baseball greats like Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, Buck O’Neil and Austin’s own Hall-of-Famer, Willie Wells. And now, Downs Field is getting some much needed help.

Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District and the Friends of Downs Field started raising money more than a year ago and came up with $200,000 in public and private donations.

A presentation at the field Wednesday included renderings that show a new gate and improved hike and bike trails around the ballpark.

“Once you get beyond the barbed wire and the falling planks off the grandstand, and you come out to this field, it’s like you can feel the history,” said Lisa Byrd. “You can see the ghosts. You can feel the happiness. You can feel the community that built and created this space.”

Huston-Tillotson’s baseball team currently plays on the field, located along 12th Street in East Austin, which is owned by the City of Austin. The University sold the field to the city in the mid-1900’s. Back in 2013, the Texas Historical Commission designated it a historic landmark.

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