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Majestic Park examines next steps, expansion

by Bryan Rice | May 21, 2023 at 4:03 a.m.
Lake Hamilton and Jonesboro fans watch their two teams face off in the Class 5A state tournament May 12, 2022, at Majestic Park. - Photo by Krishnan Collins of The Sentinel-Record

Editor's note: This is the first installment of a two-part series examining future possibilities for Majestic Park.

Majestic Park has quickly become a regional baseball destination for T-ball through the Natural State Collegiate League and everything in between.

There is never a dull moment in the park. So far in 2023, Majestic Park has hosted its annual Dugan Invitational, local league play, SW Sporting Goods Classic, local college and high school games, youth tournaments and unveiled a statue of Babe Ruth.

Majestic Park is built where professional baseball held its early spring training starting at the turn of the century, hosting players such as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson and Honus Wagner. Majestic Park has truly become where baseball's past meets baseball's future.

What is the future for Majestic Park?

"That is a great question," Majestic Park General Manager Derek Phillips said. "It is hard to put a definitive answer on that. We already do so much. We have been approached by some semiprofessional, not minor league MLB system scale, but semipro baseball that have talked about seating capacity and stuff like that.

"There is a lot of great ball that gets played here. Everybody loves the turf field. I had a semipro organization out of Texas want to schedule some games here and even base a team out of Hot Springs and have two teams out of Arkansas. One in Hot Springs and one in Fort Smith. We were just booked with American Legion, high school and USSSA World Series. We have our own semipro wood bat collegiate league we do on the weekends."

Majestic Park's Babe Ruth Field can hold close to 1,000 fans with room to expand.

"The stadium itself is about 400-ish, but we have a lot of extra seating potential down there," Phillips said. "We built the stadium and made the stadium size a little smaller to get in with budget."

When Majestic Park was being erected, material prices were through the roof.

"There is room there," Phillips said, "on either side of first and third base dugouts to the grandstand to just make the grandstands expand all the way down to that point."

The smallest MLB affiliated ballpark holds just over 2,000 people.

"A great start would be expanding the stadium part all the way to the dugout on either side," Phillips said. "I think if you did that with the idea of getting to 2,000, there is some room if you went on down to build more rows of seating upward."

Phillips said there is room where the sidewalk sits behind third base.

"You could add a couple of rows extra," he said. "I would think you could get really close if you expanded from the sidewalk all the way down and put rows of seats from the third base dugout all the way back to the grandstand and did the same thing on the other side. You could do more than double it."

The Dunedin Blue Jays in Florida average an attendance of 381 fans per game. Their stadium holds 8,500 people. Majestic Park could beat that throughout a season even though its seating is around 1,000.

"We could take them on right now," Phillips joked.

Majestic Park also has room in left field behind the fence for expansion. Outfield bleachers are possible, or even an open area such as the Hog Pen at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

"There is room in left and right out toward the corners," Phillips said. "I guess all of that is a possibility. On the left field side you would have to reconfigure how they get in and out of there. As it stands right now you would have to walk on the field to get in that area. That would have to be something that would be tackled to get in that area from a seating perspective.

"You could come in from the outfield side, but that is down the trail. I am sure there is some way you could reconstruct that to make that more usable. There is definitely some room in there."

After adding more seating, Majestic Park would be one step closer to taking what it has built to a pro level.

However, there are still a few mountains to climb.

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