Judge Won't Stop Demolition Of Historic Grandstand In Independence, Kansas

Saturday, July 25th 2015, 11:02 am
By: Richard Clark

A judge refused to block the demolition of what's left of a historic baseball stadium in Independence, Kansas on Friday.

An Independence man had asked for an injunction to stop the demolition of the old grandstand at Shulthis Stadium, but the judge refused.

The same judge had issued a temporary restraining order on Monday, but on Friday he refused to issue an injunction.

7/21/2015: Related Story: Supporters Of Historic Grandstand In Independence, Kansas Win Court Victory

The old grandstand is what's left of Shulthis Stadium. It sits on a corner of what is now the athletic field for Unified School District 446.

The grandstand is historic for many reasons. It was built in 1918 in Riverside Park by A.W. Shulthis, making it a landmark by virtue of its age. But its biggest claim to fame is that it hosted the world's first night game of organized baseball, played on April 28, 1930.

Some of the biggest names in baseball played there, both at night and during the day, including Mickey Mantle and Satchel Paige.

The city took down the lights and the rest of the stadium over the years, but the concrete grandstand still stands. The school district cites an engineering study from more than a decade ago which it says indicates the grandstand should be torn down. It voted on July 13, 2015 to move forward on a plan to replace the grandstand with a new structure that would look the same from the outside. 

A group trying to save the grandstand says the same study proves the grandstand could be returned to its former glory with some preservation work.

Independence resident Mark Metcalf, who filed the request for the injunction, has been trying to get the grandstand added to the National Register of Historic Places. He wanted the demolition halted until the next step in that process, which is a meeting of Kansas State Historic Preservation Officer which is scheduled for August 8, 2015.

Because of Friday's ruling, the school board can begin demolition as soon as it gets the proper permits, which could happen any day.