Updated:ORLANDO, Fla. —
Late Tuesday morning an Orlando board voted to recommend the city designate the ball diamond at Tinker Field be designated a historic site.
The ballpark was supposed to be torn down to make way for the expansion of the Citrus Bowl, but some people want the old stadium preserved.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Tinker Field in the early 1960s and a number of baseball legends, including Jackie Robinson, have played in the stadium.
The decision does not mean the stands, dugouts and other areas of Tinker Field will be demolished, it only means the diamond is now protected from major alterations.
The Municipal Planning Board was looking at a report that suggested the grandstand, press box and other parts of the facility would need about $10 million in restoration work.
One area resident who spoke with Channel 9's Steve Barrett put the blame on city leaders for that figure, saying Mayor Buddy Dyer has not done enough to maintain the facility and now it’s in such disrepair it will cost those millions just to make the stands safe for spectators again.
"That’s all on the city, because in 2003, Buddy Dyer, our mayor, signed a statement that it was in good condition and that’s how it got its National Register historically," said Lawanna Gelzer. Gelzer went on to blame the city for letting the stadium deteriorate.
Other residents argued the stadium should stay because it’s a symbol of community diversity.
“Our brand is valuable. We’re not Fruitland Park, we’re not Sanford with George Zimmerman, we’re not Osceola County where they arrested the Aryan Nation people,” said Orlando resident Jim Callahan.
The final decision is still up to the Orlando City Commission, although it is believed they will likely accept Tuesday’s recommendation at an August 11 meeting.
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Channel 9's Steve Barrett will have more on this story on Eyewitness News at 5.