Shreveport, Louisiana, is known for many things. It’s home to eight casinos, the Norton Art Gallery, and the American Rose Center Gardens. It houses the Independence Bowl and the Louisiana State Fair. The world-famous Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, once featuring “The Louisiana Hayride” radio program, resides downtown. And Shreveport is second only to New Orleans among Louisiana cities with multiple historic landmarks.
It’s a little-known fact that Shreveport was once recognized for the sport of baseball, dating back to the Shreveport Grays (Texas-Southern League) in 1895. With a succession of winning teams in the Texas League between 1908 and 1961 – from the Pirates to the Gassers to the Sports – Shreveport made its way into the national spotlight. The City even hosted the New York Yankees and their star slugger, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, during spring training in 1921.
In recent years, however, Shreveport hasn’t had great luck with the game.
Fairgrounds Field, built in 1986, was once home to the Shreveport Swamp Dragons and the Shreveport-Bossier Captains. Unfortunately, the minor league baseball stadium saw its last game played in 2011 and has since fallen into disrepair. Many organizations have expressed interest in Fairgrounds Field, but the structural and aesthetic upgrades required to get the stadium up to code and game-ready make it financially impractical. Instead, the stadium was slotted for demolition with plans to turn it into a parking lot.
However, in 2022, REV Entertainment joined the conversation and brought another idea to the field. In short, they wanted to bring baseball back to Shreveport.
As a full-service events and entertainment company based in Arlington, Texas, REV Entertainment creates meaningful experiences and memories while driving content and revenue. In Arlington the company currently manages Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers, and Choctaw Stadium, the centerpiece of a 270-acre mixed-use complex that includes Texas Live! – a unique Entertainment District.
The City of Shreveport and REV Entertainment engaged JPR to develop a long-term Entertainment District Master Plan for the entire 180-acre area that houses Independence Stadium, the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, Hirsch Memorial Coliseum, and the Louisiana State Fair.
JPR and the project stakeholders recognized the significance of existing amenities and the immense opportunity to develop a cohesive District, combining strong connectivity and mutually beneficial relationships. The overarching goal of the Master Plan is to provide the framework for a cohesive, inviting, connected, and walkable District that would provide sports, concerts, events, dining, retail opportunities, and festivals for the City and its surrounding communities.
To develop this, JPR traveled to Shreveport to obtain first-hand knowledge of the site. The design team’s ability to gain a comprehensive understanding of the area was essential. This included understanding the site’s history and its potential, along with the needs of the community. Analyzing the site’s existing conditions, availability of transportation, and quality of infrastructure was also important, as was gaining a firm grasp on the City’s zoning regulations and land use policies. Additionally, the site’s relationship with downtown Shreveport and adjacent neighborhoods was a critical component.
Knowing that this area is shared with the Louisiana State Fairgrounds, JPR wanted to create an environment that could be utilized efficiently by everyone. With up to 450,000 people attending the 14-day event each year, the design team paid special attention to the placement of facilities and parking within the Master Plan. Phasing for a hotel, restaurant, and the possibility of a parking garage was also proposed.
Throughout the design, JPR had to balance the needs of all users and provide a concept that incorporated and enhanced the existing historical buildings and natural landscapes, while still offering modern amenities and experiences. And with baseball as the anchor of the proposed Entertainment District, a key element in the Master Plan was the development of a new stadium to host a minor league or independent baseball team. This venue, to be built in tandem with surrounding mixed-use spaces, would be highly visible from Interstate 20 and strategically positioned near Independence Stadium.
As project details and challenges are being resolved, stakeholders are continuing their efforts to bring baseball back to Shreveport. If progress continues as anticipated, REV Entertainment estimates the facility will be finished by 2026.