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Baseball fans can watch as new Marlins Triple-A ballpark gets built

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Wichita has a rich history of baseball, even if the public isn’t fully on-board just yet.

Rendering of Wichita’s new ballpark from right field.
@CityofWichita/Twitter

WICHITA, Kan.—The new Marlin’s Triple-A ballpark is being built right on your computer screen.

Wichita Baseball 2020 announced Thursday on its social media accounts the integration of a Ballpark Construction Cam to allow anyone to watch in time lapse the development—set to be completed and ready for next season.

The ballpark cam, placed in the Hyatt Regency facing west across the Arkansas River, can be viewed here.

The new venue is being built on the site of the now demolished Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, an 84-year-old park that opened in 1934. It has not been named as of yet.

The New Orleans Baby Cakes, current Triple-A affiliate of the Marlins, are set to move to Wichita in 2020. Their new team name hasn’t been decided, either, though there was a campaign to collect fan suggestions in January. New Orleans has been an affiliate of Miami since 2009, and was founded in 1993 as the New Orleans Zephyrs.

As for Wichita, the city will bring back affiliated minor league ball for the first time since 2007. The most recent tenants of Lawrence-Dumont were the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association, an independent league. The team played its last game in 2018 before the destruction of the stadium.

Wichita previously hosted the Wichita Wranglers (originally called the Pilots in the first two years of the franchise) from 1987 to 2007. That team was the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres from 1987-1994, and then the Kansas City Royals until relocation in 2007 to Springdale, Arkansas (currently Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Royals Double-A affiliate).

Diving even deeper into history, Wichita did previously host Triple-A team from 1970 to 1984 in the Wichita Aeros. That team was affiliated with five MLB clubs in its time: the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos and Cincinnati Reds.

Controversy in Kansas

While Wichita has rich baseball history, the move for Miami’s Triple-A team hasn’t been without some push back from locals of the Sunflower State’s largest city. Per the Wichita Eagle, the Wichita City Council voted Tuesday to sell approximately four acres around the new $75 million baseball stadium to Wichita Riverfront LP, a company connected to Baby Cakes owner Lou Schwechheimer.

The plan is for the land around the ballpark to be developed in the vision of Schwechheimer’s “Baseball Village Master Plan.” The plan previously included a ferris wheel, although that has since been nixed.

The meeting itself featured “four hours of citizen comments and presentations from the city, Schwechheimer and a neighboring development represented by George Laham,” and a total of 31 people spoke, according to The Eagle.

Some Wichitans spoke in favor of the large-scale project, saying it is what the city needs. Others were not so keen on flow of information from developer officials to the public:

“We don’t trust you,” Donna Werth told the council. “I repeat: We don’t trust you. You have been working on this project for at least a year and a half, possibly longer. You have not involved the community...so how can I trust even the information that I heard here tonight?”

The land agreement is not finalized, but Schwechheimer has spoken publicly for his plans of a new ballpark in Wichita to come to fruition.

There is still much to be done and most likely many more bumps in the road, but at least anyone in Wichita, Miami and in between can now see it on a screen as it all unfolds.