SPORTS

What’s the deal with Mickey Stevens?

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 8/18/21

Earlier this month I covered some American Legion baseball action over at the Mickey Stevens complex in Warwick. In the three-plus years that I have been in Rhode Island, Mickey Stevens has been one of the most talked about subjects that I can think of.

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SPORTS

What’s the deal with Mickey Stevens?

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Earlier this month I covered some American Legion baseball action over at the Mickey Stevens complex in Warwick.

In the three-plus years that I have been in Rhode Island, Mickey Stevens has been one of the most talked about subjects that I can think of. Most of you know the conditions of the complex, but for those of you that do not, they are lousy.

The complex has multiple baseball fields, tennis courts, parking lots, there is a ton of space that has been neglected for years and it essentially has devolved into overgrowth and a collection of poorly surfaced lots.

Now, back in 2020, former Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon unveiled a plan and vision of his which was to do a massive overhaul of the complex and create one of the state’s best sporting facilities.

Since then, the talks have seemed to cool down and locals have taken notice.

This summer, I have had numerous people reaching out or approaching me regarding the situation and simply the headache that Mickey Stevens has become. I wish I could provide more answers at this time, but for what it’s worth, I am going to give you my observations and thoughts on the matter since I never really have. When Solomon announced the plans I spoke about how excited I was, but I never really dug into it.

I must admit, when going down there a couple weeks back, I was appalled by the conditions.

Two baseball fields were in use and although they were in good enough shape to be used, it was a strange environment for each. The dugouts were unwelcoming, the infield was sloppy and the outfield looked a little long from afar.

Honestly, the league would probably have been better off finding any large patch of mowed grass, throwing some bases in a diamond formation and playing … Anyone with a big backyard would have provided a better venue and I am not being sarcastic one bit. Of course, this is a fantasy land scenario, but it was strange to watch.

As for the tennis courts, they were unusable.

Between large cracks, chunks of pavement ripped away, uneven surfaces, poor net conditions, they could not be used in a reasonable competition. The parking lots were the same, I felt like I was off-roading by simply driving 5 miles per hour and could not really decipher where to park because the lines were almost entirely, and in some cases entirely, washed away. What a mess.

I remember driving out of the facility and just looking around. I made a conscious effort to observe as much as I could because I had a feeling that this column was coming at some point. Now, a few reader inquiries later, it is time.

I had two feelings rolling out of there: Disgust and excitement.

Disgust for the obvious reasons. You have this massive plot of land that has a foundation and potential to be incredibly useful and something to boast about for not only Warwick but the entire state of Rhode Island. What a waste of space and potential.

But, on the flip side, that is why I felt a sense of excitement, as well as hope that the city goes through with the plans and revamps it in the next couple years.

Think about it … multiple baseball fields, a football stadium for multiple sports, new tennis and basketball courts? All of that with abundant parking and a central location in the state? With the hockey rink and pool adjacent? Holy cow, what a prospect.

I’ll admit, I am not a political journalist. In terms of money, budgeting, staffing, I offer very little expertise. Point being, I am not sure the hold up and I am not totally up to date on what the next steps will be.

When talking to some of our local coaches and parents, not many people seem to know either.

My hope is that the city turns this facility around. The city has been begging for it for years and rightly so. Why shouldn’t it strive to be its best and provide citizens with a top-notch facility when only money is standing in the way? I know, money is always an issue, but it seems like that is the only big hurdle in the way. Plenty of space to work with and a foundation already in place.

Let me also throw a disclaimer in here, I do not blame one single person or group for this. I understand that when dealing with this much land and potential money, things will not progress overnight and there are a lot of boxes to check.

I will be a little more pointed over the city’s neglect over the past few decades, though. There is no excuse to allow such a capable facility to rot the way that it has. It is not one person or group’s fault, but a city-wide letdown. Heck, I’ll even take some blame for not being more aggressive in covering the topic.

This could be such a beautiful use of property for the city and an amazing opportunity to provide the locals with something to be proud of. I don’t think that it is far-fetched to assume that it would immediately be the go-to place in the state for big events whether it be youth, high school, college, and maybe even professional. It would be one of the best sporting venues in the entire region.

One last thought on it is the potential merging of high school teams. Both Pilgrim and Toll Gate are wrapped in potential renovations which would be money well-spent as well. While that is going on, we see more and more teams co-oping from these schools and I would not be surprised to continue to see this happen.

Wouldn’t this be an excellent facility to have in case we were to see further merging? I think so, it should be a no-brainer.

We’ll see what happens from here, and I appreciate everyone that has reached out over the past couple months. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and believe that in the next couple years we will see some activity at Mickey Stevens.

Will it be the overhaul that we’re begging for? Who knows? But this city and venue deserves some TLC.

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