I have to admit I’m a little bummed out that Eugene is no longer using Civic Stadium for Emeralds’ games.
I went to school at the University of Oregon and stayed there a few years after I was done. I can remember taking in quite a few Emeralds games there when they were still affiliated with the Kansas City Royals. This is taking it back a ways, but I watched Joe Randa come through there, and believe it or not I got to watch a young Mike Sweeney just out of high school.
Yep, that’s the same Mike Sweeney who is now on the back end of his career with the Seattle Mariners.
The park just has an old-time feel to it. I always felt like I was transported back to the 1940s when I watched games there. Maybe it was the covered grandstand that you rarely see anymore or the fact that it was entirely made of wood.
Anyway, it was a wonderful place to watch a game. As I understand, the community is still trying to decide what to do with Civic Stadium. I know South Eugene High School was using it as their home field last season, and hopefully, they’ll be able to continue doing so.
But I just got my first look at the Emeralds’ new field — a $19.2 million project right next to Autzen Stadium — called PK Park. The field will also serve as home to the University of Oregon baseball team, which recently made the NCAA Regional tournament for the first time in over 40 years.
To quote a well-known broadcaster, I have to say my-oh-my. What a piece of work it is.
Here's a link if you haven’t seen it yet. Even though there are many fans lamenting the possible fate of Civic Stadium, those same fans have taken to PK Park right away.
One thing that’s a little different about it — it’s got artificial turf. That’s something the Northwest League hasn’t seen since the Portland Rockies played from 1995-2000 at Civic Stadium (now PGE Park) in Portland. But NWL president Bob Richmond was down in Eugene for the Ems’ NWL opener, and he doesn’t believe the new turf will present a problem.
“It’s a gorgeous park,” Richmond said. “I don’t think it will affect too much. The ball seems to hop true, so I don’t think it will make a big difference.”
I’m hoping to make a trip down there soon to take a look. If I do, I’ll be sure to let you know how it looks. But that’s the great thing about the Northwest League, too, is that nothing is so far away that it’s not more than a half-day’s drive away. Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to check it out, too.