HELENA – Helena city staff will delay negotiating with a new baseball league for two years, after city commissioners decided to allow American Legion Baseball to expand their program at Kindrick Legion Field.
The decision comes after the Brewers’ decision to leave Helena at the end of the 2018 season.
In a packed meeting at the City/County building Wednesday night, commissioners directed Parks and Recreation to take a chance on the three teams that make up the American Legion program.
That means the Expedition League, a baseball group for college players with eight teams across the Great Plains region, will not take the Brewers’ spot next year.
The room was split about 50/50 between supporters of the decision, and those who rooted for the Expedition League’s move into Helena.
Supporters of the decision said scheduling American Legion games with another league had proved difficult, and there’s simply not enough field time for youth players.
Other people said the field itself needs more rest in between games.
Steve Wagner, president of the Expedition League, told people at the meeting his team would be flexible with the American Legion’s game schedule.
City staff said they’re also interested in pursuing more opportunities for other recreational uses at the facility, like music festivals. But some in attendance weren’t convinced.
“I don’t think there will be a team that wants to come back here,” said Marlene Hughes, a supporter of the Expedition League. “I think the park’s going to deteriorate. I think you’re going to see a changeover of the Legion families.”
American Legion Baseball general manager Greg Thornquist told MTN he’s not worried the condition of the field will deteriorate without a minor league team there. He also said he’s excited to bring Brewers’ fans to their games.
According to Parks and Recreation, the city will consider allowing teams to bid on the spot in the future.
Expedition League organizers have already secured a lease in Butte.
Reporting by Evelyn Schultz for MTN News