MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Construction is now underway at Luther Williams Field in Macon.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday morning in front of the stadium. Macon Bacon President, Todd Pund led the ceremony followed by county leaders, SPLOST Advisory Committee Chairman Theron Ussery, Mayor Robert Reichert, Commissioners Gary Bechtel, Virgil Watkins and Larry Schlesinger. Contractor, Warren Selby also shared his excitement to work on the historic field.
Luther Williams Field was first built in 1929. It is the second oldest minor league stadium to be standing in the United States.
“Historic building and baseball. It just comes together,” said Ussery.
Ussery says, games at Luther Williams have always had people on the edge of their seats.
“Hank Aaron played ball here, Pete Rose played ball here, Al Splangler,” said Ussery. “There are some great ball players that came through here.”
Ussery grew up in Macon and remembers the field was always the place to be.
“I used to stand out there and catch baseballs, when they were hit out of the ballpark,” said Ussery.
Decades later, Ussery will get a chance to do that again, but with a different crowd, and newly renovated stadium.
“Being a historic landmark, there’s nothing we can do to the outside of the ballpark, other than things that are new,” said Pund.
Before the Macon Bacon plays ball, new seating and hang out areas will be added to the field, including a Beer Garden.
“The main seating area will be cleaned up, will be painted. Some seats will be replaced. The concrete will be smoothed out, painted over,” said Pund.
Pund says they want to keep it as historic as possible. The last major renovations were done in 1991.
“This has got a lot of character,” said Rich Paschetti, who traveled from Ohio. Paschetti has been to 154 ball parks, and says Luther Williams is unlike any other.
“It’s something you really can’t build in a ball park. It has to be there,” said Paschetti. “I mean look at the old brick and the old rod iron. It’s a throwback area and that’s what makes it fun.”
Renovations will cost about $2.5 million from the SPLOST. The original stadium only cost about $60,000 to build.
“The memories are there. The echoes of the past,” said Ussery. “Hank Aaron hitting balls out, Pete Rose running to first base. As long as the ball park is here, the memories are here.”
Renovations are expected to be complete by May 1st.