A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Renovation of Meinken Field in Covington seen as ‘blessing for the whole community’

By Terry Boehmker
NKy Tribune sports reporter

The renovation of Meinken Field in Covington is nearly completed and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $800,000 project is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday, July 13.

The ceremony is being held in conjunction with the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati because Major League Baseball and the Cincinnati Reds donated $400,000 to help upgrade the baseball facility that features a new scoreboard and synthetic turf in both the infield and outfield.

“It’s a blessing for the whole community,” said Eric Neff, who supervised the field renovation for Covington Independent Schools. “I’d say it will be the premier high school baseball field in Northern Kentucky and probably in the Greater Cincinnati area.”

New Meinken

A new look for Meinken Field in Covington. (Photo by Eric Neff)

Neff said the support and cooperation of Alvin Garrison, the superintendent of Covington Independent Public Schools, and the board of education were crucial to the success of the project
that got under way last year.

Meinken Field had been owned and maintained by the City of Covington for more than 50 years. At one time, there were three fields on the property used for  baseball and softball games. After the property was converted to a single field with outfield fences, the city allowed the baseball teams at Holmes and Holy Cross high schools to use it as their home field during the spring.

Last fall, the city sold the Meinken Field property to Covington Independent Public Schools for $28,000 and it became the home field for just Holmes. That’s when Neff and Holmes athletic director Stan Steidel began looking for funds to renovate the facility with the help of Natalie Gardner, the strategic projects manager for the City of Covington.

“She’s been right by my side since day one through this whole process and that’s why we are where we are today,” Neff said of Gardner. “Her commitment and tireless efforts to see this project completed has been unbelievable.”

When Gardner heard about Major League Baseball offering funds for renovation projects through its All-Star Community Legacy program, she let Neff know about it. Meinken Field was submitted for consideration and MLB approved money for the project in December. Neff said the donation totaled $400,000.

With Gardner’s help, additional money was acquired through public and private donations. Neff said the generous sponsors included the R.C. Durr Foundation, Ralph Drees and Dr. Robert Longshore, who once had a medical practice in Covington.

“It’s been a community project, it really has,” Neff said. “The partnership between the school district and the city has grown immensely as far as working together and developing an understanding that we’re both here for the good of the community.”

Major League Baseball also donated money for the renovation of seven baseball fields in Cincinnati and one in Dayton, Ohio, through the All-Star Community Legacy program. The money was allocated to “provide first-class facilities to youth and amateur players, especially those in urban and underserved areas,” according to a press release from the organization.

Meinken Field is located along the banks of the Licking River. There were some concerns about the new field being flooded if the river rises, but Steidel said city engineers and representatives of the Kenton County Sanitation District inspected the property and approved the renovation project before it started.

Motz Group of Cincinnati began working on Meinken Field in April. The synthetic turf has now been installed and the field lined for baseball. There’s still some work to be done on the dugouts, bullpen areas and parking lot, but it’s expected to be completed before the ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 13.

Neff said representatives from Major League Baseball, the City of Covington and Covington Independent Public Schools plan to take part in the grand opening of the new baseball facility. After the ceremony is completed, there will be a baseball clinic for children participating in the Covington schools summer program.

The highly durable synthetic turf will allow Meinken Field to be used for more than just high school baseball. Steidel said physical education classes could be conducted there and the Holmes football or soccer teams may use the field as a practice facility. They even included a portable pitcher’s mound that can be adjusted for youth baseball games or softball games.

“Our purpose in getting involved, as well as the city and Major League Baseball, is for this is to be a community project,” Steidel said. “And it will be a community project, but our kids (at Holmes High School) are going to be first in line to use it.”

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