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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Cavemen co-owner questions stadium’s safety

  • In less than six weeks, the Hannibal Cavemen are scheduled to kick off their third season as a member of the Prospect League. According to Larry Owens, one of the baseball team’s co-owners, the ballpark is far from ready.


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  • In less than six weeks, the Hannibal Cavemen are scheduled to kick off their third season as a member of the Prospect League. According to Larry Owens, one of the baseball team’s co-owners, the ballpark is far from ready.
    “It’s just not safe for people or the players,” said Owens. “Old ballparks take a little more attention than new ballparks I’m sure. You surely can’t show up, turn the lights on and play ball.”
    During a visit to the ball park last week Owens found a number of maintenance items had yet to be addressed since the conclusion of the 2010 season.
    “Basically it’s a lack of not doing any upkeep or maintenance at all last year and at the end of the year leaving it just like it was,” he said.
    Owens acknowledges that the lease the ownership group has with the city regarding Clemens Field states that upkeep of the ballpark is the team’s responsibility and not the city’s. Owens says he thought co-owner Bob Hemond, who makes his home in California, had someone “under contract to get things done, but going back to last year I could see things weren’t getting done.”
    While Owens oversaw the initial renovations to Clemens Field, he stresses he is no longer an active part of the day-to-day operations.
    “I was supposed to build it and be out,” he said. “I don’t really know what they’ve got going on. I hear a few things when I’m up there on other things. It’s getting to the point where it concerns me because my name is still on the lease.”
    According to Owens, the work needed could not occur overnight.
    “The windows are broken out in the stadium in some places and you’ve got to order those,” he said. “I think it would take three weeks to get the stadium up in order, to rebuild the center-field fence that’s laying on the ground, secure the loose padding, fill in holes and do the back filling.”
    Owens noted that some work in the right-field area required by the fire department has yet to be done. Bill Madore, Hannibal fire chief, says the department’s concern has to do with “making sure they had adequate ingress and egress out of that area.”
    Would that be enough to prevent the Cavemen from using the ballpark?
    “No,” said Madore. “What we would have to do is eliminate access to the right-field section, but all the other places in that facility that are well served by exits would be able to carry on as usual. We would simply have to restrict just that section alone.”
    Owens says the lack of upkeep shouldn’t be a monetary issue, reporting that the team has generated “over $1 million in income” during its brief history through “operations, ticket sales, concessions and corporate sales.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “If you don’t pay the players, there’s certainly enough money to keep the field up. That’s what I don’t understand,” he said.
    Contacted by e-mail Friday, Hemond indicted he had “no comment at this time.” Earlier this month, when asked about Owens’ allegations Hemond said that “in due time we will provide you with the real truth of the matters surrounding baseball.”
    Strained relations?
    In January, Owens reported that an agreement reached an agreement to sell his share of the 2-year-old ball team to an unidentified group, which it was suggested would be made up of local investors. However, three months later, the deal has yet to be finalized.
    “It has not progressed,” said Owens of the transaction. “It’s been talked about, but has not happened.”
    Discussions between Hemond and Owens have all but ceased, according to Owens.
    “He pretty much doesn’t talk to me since the (sale) negotiations started,” he said.
    Owens, president of Casa de Loco Winery in Camdenton, admits the lack of a sale is frustrating.
    “I’ve got other things going on. I’ve got a major concert and three-day festival in another part of the state. I’ve bought a motel down here at the lake and I’m trying to get it renovated and open for the season. I just didn’t plan on being involved with baseball,” he said.
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