KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Six baseball fields that have been run by the City of Knoxville for half a century are now closed. The city was leasing the land at Badgett Field, but that lease was up last month. Now some families are fighting to reopen the park.
Badgett Field has hosted countless sporting events since 1965. It now sits barricaded.
Judy Burnett’s two sons played there, then her grandchildren, and her husband was a coach. When the news came that the City of Knoxville’s lease was up for the property and they would be closing the fields, Burnett was devastated.
“Are they losing their minds? I said we need this park here! There’s so many kids that play ball here,” she said.
The gates were closed and locked on June 30, and now the fields are being advertised for rent.
“I say it keeps a lot of kids out of trouble being able to come here,” said Burnett.
City officials say they have made offers in the past to purchase Badgett Fields from its current owner, but nothing was ever agreed upon. Leading up to the lease’s expiration this year, they say they were negotiating the cost of that lease, but could not reach an agreement.
Burnett says she is willing to fight to see the fields reopen for future generations.
“We’ve had so many good times here, so many friends. It’s a family affair here,” she said.
The city says there is an effort to find the teams that played there other fields in the city for baseball and softball. Attorney for the family of Stephen Badgett sent this statement:
Badgett Field Has been leased to the City of Knoxville since 1965. Closure of Badgett Field was forced due to the sudden death of Stephen Badgett and the expiration of the long term lease with the City of Knoxville.
Currently the Estate of Mr Badgett is in probate. The City has determined that it is no longer in its best interest to continue leasing the ball field property. The property was closed after the expiration of the city’s lease July 1 ,2015 and due to increased liability issues.
At the present time the property is available for lease.