Historic Grandstand Torn Down In Independence, Kansas

Tuesday, July 28th 2015, 9:18 am
By: Richard Clark

Demolition began Tuesday morning on the historic grandstand at Shulthis Stadium.

The move saddened a group of people who had been fighting to save the grandstand for years.

The grandstand sits on the corner of what is now the athletic field for Unified School District 446.

The district voted earlier this month to move forward with a plan to demolish the grandstand and replace it with a building it says will look just like it.

A group of people started a Facebook page called Save Our Stadium to voice their opposition to the plan. Member Mark Metcalf got a judge to issue a temporary restraining order last week to halt the demolition, but on Friday, July 24, 2015, a judge refused to grant an injunction, allowing the demolition to begin.

7/25/2015: Related Story: Judge Won't Stop Demolition Of Historic Grandstand In Independence, Kansas

The grandstand was built in 1918 in Riverside Park by A.W. Shulthis. It hosted the world's first night game of organized baseball, played on April 28, 1930. Over the decades some of the biggest names in baseball played there, both at night and during the day. Those names included Satchel Paige and Mickey Mantle, whose first job as a professional player was with the Independence Yankees.

The stadium was eventually donated to the city, which took down the lights and the rest of the stadium over the years.

The school district says an engineering study from more than a decade ago proved the grandstand should be torn down. But opponents say the same study proved the grandstand was sound and could have been saved and turned into a tourist attraction.

Metcalf had been trying to get the grandstand added to the National Register of Historic Places and wanted the demolition halted until the next step in that process. That next step would have been a meeting with the Kansas State Historic Preservation Officer which was scheduled for August 8, 2015.