SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Plans are now in play to bring a piece of Sacramento baseball history back to life.
A former professional player and Sacramento native is now stepping up to the plate.
Renfree Field’s home plate is overgrown with grass, thieves have stolen copper wiring and vandals have burned the backstop. The historic ballpark in Sacramento’s Del Paso Park has sat vacant and locked up for five years due to city budget cuts.
For decades the field was used by young players, some who went on to play professional ball like Leon Lee.
“Baseball in our day was a huge thing in Sacramento,” he said.
He first set field on the field when he was 16, and on Tuesday, a standing-room only crowd showed up to see his multimillion-dollar plan to bring baseball back.
“I’m just so proud to maybe have a chance to leave a legacy here of doing something with Renfree and it’s something that people can be proud of,” he said.
The project calls for renovating the stadium with a new entryway, grass, lights and a seating capacity for 3,500 people.
But many residents cried foul over Lee’s initial plans to purchase part of the nearby area and pave it over for parking.
“There’s oak trees in this park that were there when George Washington was a boy,” said Charley Duckworth.
That idea has since been canceled, but there’s still concern expanding the field could bring more noise and cars.
“Traffic is already bad on Watt and Auburn so I can’t imagine what they’re going to do with all those people,” he said.
Still, nearly everyone is excited to see the field get its glory back.
“We just want to set a program where kids can have a chance to come out and play and have fun,” Lee said.
He’s working with the same team that designed Raley Field and Bonney Field, and working with the city to sign a long-term lease. If approved, he hopes to have the field reopened in the fall.