The Arkansas Travelers’ ballclub decision to quit its lease of Ray Winder Field (shown in happier days) as of today was likely less of a surprise to the city than was reported this morning in the Democrat-Gazette, since the Arkansas Times reported it in last week’s edition.
Mayor Mark Stodola, at least, had seen the news, and by yesterday (Wednesday) had his hands on -- and provided to us -- the lease the Travelers signed with the city in 1966. The D-G story today said the lease couldn't be found. The Travs now play in a new stadium in North Little Rock.
The lease requires that at the expiration of the lease, “the premises will be delivered to Lessor in a good state of preservation, and the improvements in a good state of repair, ordinary wear and tear being excepted.” There’s some question whether that describes the condition of the grandstand (which sits on the city portion of the property, which is also owned by the state), which club general manager Bill Valentine said needs a new roof, and fencing, which has been vandalized.
Nevertheless, the city is going to “do the right thing,” Stodola said, and pick up the utilities and insurance on the property “at least temporarily.” Accepting the property in its condition “is not necessarily something the city wants to do at this point in time,” he said.
The lease expired in 1986 but was renewed orally. The portion owned by the city is generally west of the line that Monroe Street follows north of the park; the rest is State Hospital property.
-- Leslie Newell Peacock