What in the world is going on with Legion Field?
On Mill Street between Floyd Street and Newton Drive is Legion Field. In a world of development it is a precious piece of green space. It holds memories of fairs dating back to the thirties. Baseball, football, soccer, and yes, cricket have been played in this space. And the exciting news is it is getting a major “redo”.
Probably the first thing you notice as you go past Legion Field is the impressive new entry. It was designed to give the look of a “historical fairground entrance.” It is built high and wide enough to handle anything that can travel on the interstate system. This is not to say that a new interstate is coming to town, but rather any trailer or ride that can be transported on the interstate can be brought into Legion Field.
Also as a part of the entry area there is a new permanent ticket booth with pedestrian entries for ticketed events. While many uses of the field will not require tickets, this will facilitate those where entry needs to be controlled.
A new open air pavilion has been built on the footprint of one built some sixty year or so ago. It had fallen into disrepair to the point of not being safe. Several years ago it was torn down. A new one has been built to match the look of the r e f u r bi s h ed Fair or Exhibit Building. The pavilion will be used for displays, picnics, booths for the fair and other festivals.
The old Fair Building is being completely refurbished. It is also called, by some, the Exhibit Building for in the past you entered the fair through this building. Thus passing the exhibits first. The windows had been blocked up. Now they have been opened up again with new window panes. There are 6,000 square feet of space for a variety of uses. There also will be restrooms and a catering area for those using the space for banquets and receptions. The restroom will be like the new ones recently build near the square.
Randy Vincent, Planning and Zoning Director, has been the one in charge of the planning and implementing of the project. He has worked closely with Mayor Ronnie Johnston and the City Council as well as with the American Legion.
Legion Field was originally the property of the Ameri- can Legion. It was both a fair ground for the Legion’s annual fair as well as a place where American Legion Baseball was played. When developers began to show interest in the property. The local Legion and its leaders decided to sell the property to the city so going forward there will would be green space for the fair and other outdoor uses.
The agreement was for the city to purchase Legion Field over a ten year period with no interest. The price was about half of what the developers had offered according to Don Floyd, retired Covington Fire Chief. Don has served as the liaison between the American Legion and the City concerning Legion Field. He shared memories of baseball games both by high school teams as well as American Legion teams.
High School football was played on the field before Sharp Memorial Stadium was built according to Don. If you go by on Sunday afternoon today you might just catch a Cricket Match bring played by those who brought their love for the game with them as they came to our community.
The decision by the Legion, is just another example of how our community pulls together to make a difference for the common good. Members of the Legion have given great service to our nation and the legacy of Legion Field is another gift from the Legion.
Funding for the rebuilding of Legion Field has come from the Hotel/Motel Tax. Those who come to our city to visit pay this modest tax that in turn is used to build projects such as Legion Field and refurbishing of the square. This draws even more to enjoy our city.
Future plans envision a raised areas for performances with a band shell for acoustics. This is projected to be at the back of the field. This would allow outdoor space for concerts. Joining our present areas such as the Square and Turner Lake for bringing entertainment to our city.
B. WILEY STEPHENS