The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday secured funding for improvements at Rickwood Field in preparation for the MLB coming to town next summer for a tribute game.
Councilors approved an agreement for the city PACE Board to issue $4.5 million in bonds through PNC bank. It also during the year has approved several allocations totaling about $2.5 million for renovations at the field, and it recently approved allocations of $150,000 a year for three years to the Friends of Rickwood Field. The field is owned by the city and maintained by the nonprofit Friends group.
The MLB chose Rickwood Field, the country’s oldest surviving baseball field, to host its “2024 MLB at Rickwood Field, A Tribute to the Negro Leagues” game next June. Just a few days before that, the field will host its Rickwood Classic, which will feature the Birmingham Barons playing the Montgomery Biscuits.
Councilor Carol Clarke, whose District 8 includes Rickwood, thanked the city for helping to fund the construction.
“I’m really glad we’re doing this because they were trying to raise money. Inflation affected the amount of the construction that was required, so it’s more than double what … they had intended to have to spend,” Clarke said.
She also asked the city in the coming months to share a bit of love with the Rising-West Princeton community around Rickwood. She said that, before people from across the country come for a visit, the neighborhood needed to be spruced up, including cleaning storm drains and resurfacing some roads.
Visitors to the field mostly park throughout the neighborhood. Rickwood Field, built in 1910, wasn’t built with modern parking concerns in mind.