The discussion about how to replace Lafayette’s Loeb Stadium began in earnest this week with a debate between citizens over prospective design plans.
The City of Lafayette has partnered with design firm American Structurepoint and wants to have the replacement space finished by 2019.
One big topic of debate at a Tuesday night forum at Lafayette’s Jefferson High School was the possibility of turning the new stadium around to face a different direction.
Some of the two-to-three-dozen-person crowd were in favor of turning the field because of the amount of sun that hits the players’ eyes during games, creating a safety issue.
Others argue there’s not enough space around the field to flip it – and say if it was oriented differently, the sun would be in fans’ eyes.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski says the debate is important to moving forward with the redesign.
“Because that’s going to be one of the first really big decisions we need to make, and of course we’ll lay it out both ways,” Roswarski says. “But that decision will have a big factor on what happens next and how we go.”
He says once conceptual drawings are made, those will be released to the public and more input sought.
American Structurepoint Senior Project Architect Dan McCloskey – who previously worked on Kokomo’s baseball stadium -- noted most professional baseball fields point northeast in direction from home plate to the pitcher’s mound.
Loeb Stadium faces nearly due south.
And while others spoke about the harshness of the sun and how foul balls can be retained, Debbie Adams says Loeb Stadium’s setup makes it difficult to bring a family member in a wheelchair.
Adams says she’d like to see companion seats beside the handicap accessible areas in the stands, new bathrooms and easier avenues for those in wheelchairs to navigate the new stadium.
“Everyone talked about the parking and everything, but if you have someone in a wheelchair, 20-25 feet is a lot,” she says. “I don’t think people understand that it’s difficult.”
Adams says she challenges anyone who builds a park to try getting around it in a wheelchair to understand what needs to be in place.
She and McCloskey both note handicap accessible amenities are a requirement for new construction projects.
The city will hold another public input meeting Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the LGI room of Lafayette Jefferson High School.