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Wednesday, Apr 23rd

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More improvements on tap for Jackie Robinson Ballpark

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Jackie Robinson Ballpark

More improvements are on tap for Jackie Robinson Ballpark, home of the Daytona Cubs (High Class A; Florida State League), as the city and team discuss a new 10-year lease.

The city is looking at spending $1.3 million on various improvements to the historic facility, which would include new restrooms, revamped concessions, better player workout spaces and a new entry plaza. The historic 1929 grandstand would remain untouched. From our visit to the ballpark:

Daytona officials and team owners have been working to stress the historic part of the ballpark, which could end up leading to some changes to the park in the future. The history is significant: It was at this ballpark that Jackie Robinson actually broke the color line in baseball when he played in a spring-training exhibition as a member of the Montreal Royales of the International League in March 1946, his first stop before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1946 the Dodgers and the Royales were turned away from several previously scheduled spring-training exhibitions when word got out that Robinson was to take the field for the Royales: In Sanford, the police chief threatened to stop the game if Robinson did not leave the field; in Jacksonville, the stadium was padlocked shut on game day, and in nearby DeLand the scheduled day game was called off on account of faulty electrical lighting. However, Robinson and the Royales were allowed to take the field in Daytona, and the following season Robinson broke the color line at the major-league level. The city named the ballpark after Robinson in 1988, and the stadium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in November 1988.

A funding plan for the renovations still needs to be worked out; the team, the city and other groups are expected to contribute.

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