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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.




PETRAKIS PARK

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Antique hunters in 2012 consider the purchase of an original sign with great baseball history. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

PETRAKIS PARK. The DUBUQUE ATHLETIC FIELD, also known as the FOURTH STREET BASEBALL FIELD and finally Petrakis Park, in honor of John PETRAKIS, was located on what was known as the Fourth Street Extension between Dubuque and the bridge leading to East Dubuque. The land was originally a network of sloughs and islands. In the 1850s part of it was platted and became CITY ISLAND. The STANDARD LUMBER COMPANY was allowed to use it for their lumber yards. The land lay neglected until 1912 when Alderman McLaughlin of the Second Ward obtained $2,500 from the city council to convert the property into an athletic park.

In 1962 Dubuque Baseball, Inc. paid a rental fee of $2,900 for the use of Patrakis Park for its home games. The fee, set by the Recreation Commission, was $400 more than the club had formerly paid before it was granted the park for a token fee of $1 in 1960 and 1961 when the club agreed to maintain the field. Dubuque Baseball paid $2,500 annually for the park from 1954 through 1959. Rental income that year for the park included the Dubuque Shrine Club paying a fee of $75 per day and the cost of electric power to host the Shrine Circus on July 30-31. (1)

In 1974 as the Iowa National Guard looked for land upon which to build a new armory, attention turned to the Petrakis Park, the only city-owned property on CITY ISLAND large enough to satisfy the Guard's wishes. Brig. General Francis J. KELLY said the Guard wanted inner-city land because it would offer convenience of a centrally located armory to potential recruits and would save time during alerts and emergencies. Two facts quickly dampened any enthusiasm for the military's use of City Island. City Manager Gilbert D. CHAVENELLE noted this would mean the necessary relocation of the ballpark. City Engineer John White estimated it would cost $90,000 just to move the ballpark's light towers. (2)

In November 1980 the City of Dubuque and the Pillsbury Company signed a lease in which the company paid $20,000 to be able to store grain and then coal on the site of Petrakis Park for eight months. This dashed all hopes of restoring Dubuque's only lighted baseball field. It also meant that Dubuque was without a professional-status baseball field for the first time since 1879 when the city claimed the World Championship by defeating the Chicago Cubs 1-0. That was also the year that Dubuque became a member of the first professional baseball league in Iowa and future stars Charles Albert COMISKEY and Charles Gardner RADBOURNE played infield. (3) The site had once been called the DUBUQUE ATHLETIC FIELD.

The future use of Petrakis Field located on the Fourth Street Peninsula for baseball was also questioned. Other companies wished to lease the land and the likelihood of a three-year agreement between the city and another company looked promising. (3)

Construction of a new baseball complex on CITY ISLAND was set for 1983, but voters still had to pass a bond issue.

In June, 1982 the city's voters approved a bond measure that resulted in the construction of a softball/baseball complex. McAleece Sports Complex covering 42-acres included John Petrakis Park, the home baseball field for LORAS COLLEGE and WAHLERT CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL. Dubuque Little League and three semi-pro baseball teams also use the field. In 2010 three softball fields had summer adult leagues playing for fourteen weeks from May through August six might per week. Most nights had four games on each field. (4)

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Source:

1. "Baseball Park Rental Set," Telegraph-Herald, March 27, 1962, p. 3

2. Fyten, David, "City, National Guard Search for Mutually Acceptable Plot," Telegraph Herald, December 17, 1974, p. 9

3. Bigelow, Bruce. "City Rents Park to Pillsbury," Telegraph Herald, Nov. 17, 1980, p. 21.

4. Dubuque, Iowa-Official Website. Online: http://www.cityofdubuque.org/index.aspx?NID=1131