WHAT'S THE SITUATION WITH DOENGES STADIUM?

posted Jul 26, 2016, 11:18 PM by District Webmaster   [ updated Aug 17, 2016, 7:33 PM by Granger Meador ]
QUICK ANSWER:

In June 2016 the City of Bartlesville and Bartlesville Public School District approved the transfer of the Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium, which has always been the home of the Bartlesville schools' baseball teams, from the city to the district. This will allow the district to sell the ad space at the stadium and utilize the proceeds in maintaining this treasured and historic facility. The school district was already maintaining the stadium, so the transfer did NOT increase the operating costs of the district and will in fact reduce them.

Why the transfer was needed

Over a year ago, the city called into question the use of paid city crews to maintain the baseball stadium as part of its parks program. The city has not had its own baseball team for years, and the stadium has not been available for unsupervised public use. Due to the use of city crews for maintenance, the city was reportedly losing about $30,000 per year to operate the stadium. 

The stadium is integral to the public school baseball program and is also used less intensively for American Legion baseball and the Oklahoma Wesleyan University team.

Consequently the city leased the stadium to the district and other teams. Since the stadium is absolutely essential to the district's baseball program,the district is its primary user, and the stadium is a treasured community asset, the school district took over all maintenance over a year ago as part of its lease agreement with the city. Coaches and volunteers did the work; the district did NOT hire any additional employees for the work. This has benefited both the city and the district, as the district has been able to maintain and even improve the quality of the facility while the city has not had to budget maintenance crews.

However, the cost to the district will be reduced further by the transfer of the stadium from the city to the district, as this will allow the district to receive the revenue from sales of the advertising on the stadium outfield wall and also collect stadium rental fees. Those are expected to offset the cost of the stadium's electricity usage. Part of the agreement between the city and the school district is that the city would have to be consulted before the stadium's name could be changed or any significant changes made to its façade, and if the facility were ever not used for baseball, ownership would revert to the city.

The change in maintenance and ownership has been a win-win proposition, improving the efficient utilization of resources for both the city and the school district.

The stadium's status as a facility

The stadium dates back to 1932, as detailed in the box below the photographs. Its last major renovation was in 1997. A community group spearheaded the use of public and private funding to install a new lighting system, re-sod the playing surface and install underground sprinklers, add wide-back aluminum benches to seat 1,000, replace the old bench-style seating with 510 chair-back seats, and paint the exterior. The stadium now comfortably seats 2,500.

Nineteen years later, the stadium would be improved with some additional maintenance. About 0.6% of the proposed bond issue would be used for some renovations to the stadium to help address issues that have arisen over the past two decades of use, including repairing the roof, repairing the ceiling and flooring of the press box, and slight repair to the locker room facilities.



Bartlesville Bruins baseball team at Doenges Stadium
Doenges Stadium seating

Some Doenges Stadium History

CURRENT USES

The city has not had its own baseball team for many years, but Doenges Memorial Stadium has long been the home of the Bartlesville Bruins baseball team. It has also been the home of the local American Legion Baseball Program and other area teams. The Stadium twice hosted the American Legion World Series, in 2003 and 2007, and for several years has hosted the Sandy Koufax World Series of the American Amateur Baseball Congress. The district will still support use of the stadium by other teams.

EARLY BASEBALL IN BARTLESVILLE

Bartlesville has been a baseball town since its first team, the Brickbats, formed in 1895. The early-day teams had a community ballpark with a roofed grandstand for 500 spectators at what was the south end of the city near Johnstone Avenue and 11th Street. That park was quickly abandoned for a new stadium just south of there, which hosted 53 home games for the Bartlesville Grays. In 1907 the city purchased land just north of the city limits from William Johnstone - the site of present-day Doenges Stadium.

MEMORIAL STADIUM

The wooden grandstand was replaced by today's roofed concrete facility via a $42,000 bond issue in 1930. It was dedicated as Municipal Athletic Field on May 2, 1932, and besides baseball games has hosted parades, rodeos, celebrations, and revivals. It even served as the high school football field until Custer Field was built in the early 1950s at College High School.

Contractor James H. Hamilton built the stadium and concrete fence. The stadium was known as the only professional ballpark in the world with the same distance (340 feet) to the fence anywhere in fair territory, although today the home plate has moved so the field is no longer fully symmetrical.

DOENGES STADIUM

In 1997 the Bartlesville Municipal Athletic Field was renamed Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium in appreciation of nearly 60 years of support provided by Bill Doenges to the American Legion baseball program, with the Doenges Ford Injuns teams, which were later renamed the Doenges Indians.

Part of the agreement between the city and the school district is that the city would have to be consulted before the stadium's name could be changed or any significant changes made to its façade.