Bush Stadium

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Bush Stadium
Bush Stadium Indianapolis.JPG
Bush Stadium in 2009 prior to the demolition of the grandstands. The light tower and facade have since been incorporated into a new building.
Full nameOwen J. Bush Stadium
Former namesPerry Stadium (1931–1942)
Victory Field (1942–1967)
Location1501 West 16th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
OwnerIndianapolis Indians (1931–1967)
City of Indianapolis (1967–2001)
OperatorIndianapolis Indians (1931–1967)
Indianapolis Parks Department (1967–2001)
Capacity15,000 (1931–1937)
13,000 (1938–1946)
13,254 (1947–1979)
12,934 (1980–1996)
Field sizeLeft Field – 335 ft (102 m)
Left Center Field – 350 ft (110 m)
Deep Left Center – 405 ft (123 m)
Center Field Inner Fence – 395 ft (120 m)
Deep Right Center – 405 ft (123 m)
Right Center Field – 350 ft (110 m)
Right Field – 335 ft (102 m)
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Broke ground1931
OpenedSeptember 5, 1931
Closed2001
Construction cost$500,000
($6.52 million in 2016 dollars[1])
ArchitectPierre & Wright
Osborn Engineering Company
Tenants
Indianapolis Indians (AA/IL/PCL) (1931–1996)
Indianapolis Clowns (NAL) (1944–1950)
Indianapolis Capitols (CnFL) (1968–1969)
Bush Stadium
Bush Stadium is located in Indianapolis
Bush Stadium
Bush Stadium is located in Indiana
Bush Stadium
Bush Stadium is located in the United States
Bush Stadium
LocationIndianapolis, Indiana
Coordinates39°47′17″N 86°11′19″W / 39.78806°N 86.18861°W / 39.78806; -86.18861Coordinates: 39°47′17″N 86°11′19″W / 39.78806°N 86.18861°W / 39.78806; -86.18861
Built1931
ArchitectPierre & Wright; Osborn Engineering Company
Architectural styleArt Deco
NRHP reference #95000703[2]
Added to NRHPJune 26, 1995

Owen J. Bush Stadium was a baseball stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. It was home to the Indianapolis Indians from 1931 to 1996. It was also home to a few Negro League teams, as well as a Continental Football League team, the Indianapolis Capitols, who won the league's final championship in 1969.

History[edit]

The stadium was built by Norm Perry, owner of the Indians, in 1931. He named it Perry Stadium as a memorial to his brother Jim, the former owner of the club who had died in plane crash a few years earlier. Construction was completed by Osborn Engineering, who also constructed Fenway Park and other steel-and-concrete ballparks of that era. The Indians played their first game in the ballpark on September 5, 1931.[3]

It was renamed Victory Field on January 21, 1942, in response to the onset of World War II. The name was the winning entry of a fan contest held by the club's new owners. The day of its renaming, the Indianapolis News stated that the renaming was chosen "because of its timeliness with current affairs; its popularity among [contest] proposals; and its possibilities for elaborate public displays".

In 1967 the ballpark was sold to the city of Indianapolis, who leased it back to the Indians. On August 30, 1967, it was renamed for former major league baseball player and Indianapolis native Donie Bush, who had served as president of the Indians from 1955 to 1969.[4][5]

English ivy was planted on the brick outfield walls of Perry Stadium prior to its opening. P. K. Wrigley liked the appearance of the ivy, and subsequently instructed the iconic Wrigley Field ivy in Chicago to be planted. The ivy in Indianapolis remained after the stadium became Victory Field and then Bush Stadium, but was discontinued in 1996, when the Indians moved to the current Victory Field ballpark downtown.[6]

During the 1930s, Perry Stadium was home to many Negro League teams. These included the ABCs (1932, 1938, and 1939), American Giants (1933), Athletics (1937) and Crawfords (1940).[7] Later, it would be home to the Indianapolis Clowns, a barnstorming team that was well known for "comical antics". The Clowns won the Negro American League championship in 1952, with the help of Hank Aaron. They played in Indianapolis from 1944 to 1962. Later, the Clowns featured Toni Stone, the first female Negro League player in history.[7] Even after the Indianapolis Indians integrated in 1952, the Clowns continued to play at the stadium.[7]

In 1987, Bush Stadium was dressed up in different ways to be used as the stand-in for both Comiskey Park and Crosley Field during the filming of Eight Men Out, which was about the "Black Sox Scandal", the throwing of the 1919 World Series.

Indianapolis hosted the Pan Am Games in 1987, and the baseball tournament was held at Bush Stadium. At a game in between Cuba and the Netherlands Antilles the day after the opening ceremony, protestors taunted the Cuban players, threw flyers at them, and mocked with them offers of cash. A fight broke out but only one bystander was injured and hospitalized after Indianapolis police broke up the fight by preventing the Cuban players from entering the stands. At a subsequent game against Puerto Rico, some Cuban players were able to enter the stands to chase protestors before being stopped.[8]

In mid-season 1996, the Indians left Bush Stadium for the new Victory Field at White River State Park. In 1997, Tony George, president of the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway, leased the property and converted it into a dirt track named the 16th Street Speedway for midget car auto racing. The ivy was removed from the outfield walls around this time. As happened with a similar venture involving Philadelphia's Baker Bowl several decades earlier, the auto racing venture failed (after two years). The property closed and the stadium fell into disrepair, with no apparent future. The Indy Parks Department had control of the land, which was zoned as a park. At the time, it was estimated that renovations, which would include removal of asbestos and lead paint, could cost around $10 million.

Between 2008 and 2011 the Stadium was used as a storage site for cars traded in as part of the Cash for Clunkers program.

In 2011 it was proposed the stadium be turned into an apartment complex, and on March 15, 2012, demolition began on portions of the 81-year-old structure.[9] The 138 loft units were completely leased when the complex opened on July 27, 2013. The dirt portion of the infield has now been paved with stamped red concrete, but the lights that lit up the field at night still stand. Much of the exterior facade has been preserved, and many of the historic features, such as the owner's suite and the ticket booth, have been incorporated into the loft apartments. There are studio, one, and two bedroom units in the complex. The cost of the project was $13 million, of which the city funded $5 million.[10] The Stadium Lofts complex includes both the loft apartments within the former stadium building and newly constructed flats.[7]

Dimensions[edit]

Original

  • Left Field – 350 ft (110 m)
  • Left Center Field – 365 ft (111 m)
  • Center Field Corner – 500 ft (150 m)
  • Right Center Field – 365 ft (111 m)
  • Right Field – 350 ft (110 m)

1945 (home plate moved about 20 feet toward center field)

  • Left Field – 335 ft (102 m)
  • Left Center Field – 350 ft (110 m)
  • Center Field Corner – 480 ft (150 m)
  • Right Center Field – 350 ft (110 m)
  • Right Field – 335 ft (102 m)

1967 (inner fence constructed across center field)

  • Left Field – 335 ft (102 m)
  • Left Center Field – 350 ft (110 m)
  • Deep Left Center – 405 ft (123 m)
  • Center Field Inner Fence – 395 ft (120 m)
  • Deep Right Center – 405 ft (123 m)
  • Right Center Field – 350 ft (110 m)
  • Right Field – 335 ft (102 m)

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2018). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved January 5, 2018. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  2. ^ National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  3. ^ Elena Rippel; Abby Curtin. "Bush Stadium". Discover Indiana. The Public History Program at IUPUI. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  4. ^ "Bush, Owen Joseph "Donie, Ownie"". Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  5. ^ "Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD)" (Searchable database). Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. Retrieved 2016-08-01. Note: This includes William Madden; Suzanne Fischer; Paul Diebold (January 1995). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Bush Stadium" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  6. ^ "Ivy at Wrigley Field? It was snatched from Indy". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
  7. ^ a b c d "Stadium Lofts - Downtown Indianapolis Rentals at the old Bush Stadium - Core Redevelopment". Core Redevelopment. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
  8. ^ Higgins, Will (August 6, 2017). "Brawlers, provocateurs, even assassins: How Indy became a sports town". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  9. ^ "Demolition work begins on Bush Stadium". WTHR. Indianapolis. April 10, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  10. ^ Banes, T. J. (December 2, 2013). "Lofts give new life to historic Bush Stadium". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved December 2, 2013.

Sources[edit]

  • Ballparks of North America, by Michael Benson.

External links[edit]