Duncan Field has been one of Nebraska’s better-known baseball parks since it was built more than 70 years ago.
Now it’s in the final stages of a multi-million dollar renovation that’s updating the fan and player experience while preserving history.
Hastings Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Hassenstab says when the $3.3 million upgrade is complete Duncan Field will have lots of “new” in it.
“New seating in our grandstand, new press box, new dugouts, new restrooms, new home and visitor rooms, so basically a major facelift to the facility,” he said.
Hastings voters approved using the city’s half-cent sales tax for much of the project’s funding, but Legion Baseball officials – one of Duncan’s primary users in addition to Hastings College – says private donors rallied too.
“We’ve always had great support from our community and from our businesses in our community and that’s why we’re looking at this ball park [project] now,” said Hastings Baseball Committee Chair Gail Jones.
It might have been easier to construct a new baseball field somewhere else, but officials say that Duncan, completed just before World War II got started, is a link to the past they want to keep.
“This facility has such a tradition,” said Hassenstab. “The outfield wall and the brick piers - you don’t see that very often.”
“The history of Duncan Field as an American Legion ball park is a history that a lot of folks who have lived here all their lives such as I have are familiar with, and we would have lost that,” said Jones.
Baseball officials say the deep outfield, brick walls, and prestige of Duncan will still be there when players take the field again in what they say will be an improved and fan-friendly ballpark.
“It’s going to be exciting for the kids, which is our primary objective and what we’re after, but it’s also going to be a really exciting thing for our fans,” shared Jones.
Crews broke ground on the renovation last August, and if everything stays on track, the Parks Department hopes to have games at Duncan when Legion Baseball gets started on May 20.
Some outbuildings may not be done, and Jones says that if they can’t get in for those first games, they have another field they can use while the project finishes up.
“The sooner the better, but we also understand that the weather and a lot of other things will enter into that,” added Jones.