Sunday, June 16, 2024

Army to take over remodeling of Mérida baseball stadium

After eight years of talk but no action, the 51-year-old baseball stadium in Mérida, Yucatán will finally be renovated in a project now being spearheaded by the Mexican army.

The plan was announced Wednesday during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s daily press conference. Gen. Luis Cresencio Sandoval, head of the Defense Ministry (Sedena), put the price tag at almost 630 million pesos (US $37 million).

The Kukulcán Alamo Park stadium, home of the Yucatán Lions. (Andy Altman-Ohr)

The project will include new bathrooms, a commercial promenade, a restaurant and bar, luxury boxes, and renovated locker rooms with adjoining workout areas. More wheelchair-accessible spaces and ramps will be built, along with a new roof.

The Kukulcán Alamo Park stadium is the home of the Yucatán Lions, who play in the 18-team Mexican League, the country’s top professional summertime baseball circuit. Inaugurated in 1982, the ballpark seats 16,537 people.

Since 2016 there has been a plan to remodel it, but plans have never come to fruition — even with the Lions making it to the Serie del Rey championship series in four of the past six seasons, winning the crown in 2018 and 2022.

The plan now, Cresencio said, is for the Mexican Army Corps of Engineers to review the project and its budget.

President López Obrador at a site visit in Tulum
The Defense Ministry has assumed control of much of Mexico’s major infrastructure construction and operation in recent years. (Gob MX)

Yucatán Governor Mauricio Vila Dosal said the project will begin in the coming days, although no timeline has been presented (the 2024 season will begin April 12). Coordination between the army and local, state and federal officials has already begun, he stated.

The project is another in which the military will be in control of construction and/or operations. Others include the Maya Train, three airports – including the new one in Tulum – the revived Mexicana airline, and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec trade corridor, which includes a modernized train line between port cities in Oaxaca and Veracruz.

In Mérida, Sedena also participated in the construction of the newly opened, 50-acre Grand Park La Plancha and construction of the new Agustin O’Horán Hospital.

López Obrador has said the military is a “fundamental pillar of the Mexican state,” but has denied claims that he has militarized Mexico during his presidency.

The president is a big baseball fan who lobbied for the remodeling of another ballpark during his presidency — Kurada Park in Guasave, Sinaloa – formerly the Francisco Carranza Limón Stadium.

Its renovation allowed the Guasave Algodoneros (Cotton Growers) to rejoin the Mexican Pacific League, the country’s top professional winter league, for the 2019-2020 season — and López Obrador was in attendance at their first home game to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

With reports from El Universal and Aristegui Noticias

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