Eugene, Oregon’s Historic Civic Stadium burns to the ground

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The Eugene Emeralds haven’t played in Civic Stadium for many years. They got a new park in 2009 and the old ballpark’s future has been up in the air for some time. But the grand old park still stood. At least until last night when it burned to the ground:

Just two months after a deal was hammered out to give it new life as a facility for kids’ sports, a 78-year-old abandoned stadium on the National Register of Historic Places went up in flames Monday in Eugene, Oregon, as onlookers mournfully sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

No injuries were reported, and the fire was declared under control about 7:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. ET), about two hours after it was reported at Civic Stadium, Eugene-Springfield Fire Chief Randy Groves said. But a two-square-block-wide area around Civic Stadium remained under evacuation Monday night as a plume of gray smoke towered over the city of 159,000 people in western Oregon.

I never had the pleasure of going to a game there, but many friends of mine told me that it was wonderful. Not because it was fancy or even nice in a conventional sense — it clearly wasn’t — but because it was unlike almost any other park in professional baseball. Less a throwback than a throw-to-the side, with a fully-covered grandstand and odd wooden step-style bleacher seats. You can seen several pictures of it over at BallparkReviews. It looked like a pretty fantastic place to take in a game.