BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Concerns are brewing in the Rising-West Princeton community after the city announced that Rickwood field is *closed* for emergency repairs.
The closure impacts the annual Rickwood Classic, an event people in the neighborhood look forward to every year.
They're disappointed. As much as this is a city event, it's a community event, something that's unique to this community, a major part of history in their backyard.
Every year, this place comes alive
The good news the Rickwood Classic isn't canceled, but moving venues to Region Field. Friday, the city announced there are major repairs that need to be made.
A preliminary inspection by city engineers revealed structural damage and declared the need for repairs an emergency.
Crews were already working on other issues inside the field's offices Saturday
David Brewer, the president of the Friends of Rickwood, says they're grateful to the mayor and council for their commitment to the ballpark and are eager for the repairs to get underway.
He said the safety of visitors is a top priority, so they share city hall's sense of urgency in having the repairs completed.
But those who live nearby wished those repairs had already been addressed. Now a fan and neighborhood favorite is going elsewhere leaving some with concerns.
"Moving the game is kind of difficult. People don't have transportation. Everyone from the neighborhood likes to go the game. Now, they're moving it downtown. They'll have to get transportation to get downtown," Reginald Smith said.
Councilor Steven Hoyt said Rickwood Field falls in his district. Hoyts says he understands the community's frustrations, but the repairs need to be addressed.
The repairs are all structural, not cosmetic. The chairman of the friends of Rickwood organization Gerald Watkins says the concrete has crumbled and the steel inside the ballpark has rusted.
They say they're saddened by the closure, but hopefully, they can open the gates again next year.
"The ball park has been stable and in good shape and we just feel like now the chance is really good to get it repaired and brought back to where it needs to be," Gerald Watkins said.
Watkins says we can expect more details on the game in the coming days. Meanwhile, the ball park is used for Miles College home games and local high school baseball games.