Reacting to fears that parts of Derks Field may collapse under the weight of fans, Salt Lake City is fencing off parts of four sections for the coming season.

Mayor Deedee Corradini announced the decision Thursday, saying her crews will fence off 1,500 seats. The decision came after she received the results of an engineering survey of the stadium ordered by her office.She ordered the survey after touring the 45-year-old stadium earlier this year and noticing chips of concrete falling near concession stands beneath the grandstands.

Corradini said she hopes to persuade wealthy philanthropists and business leaders to join the city in financing a new stadium, noting that even a small one would cost $7 million and one suitable for triple-A baseball would cost $18 million. Triple-A is the highest level of minor league baseball.

"We hope there is someone out there who would take an interest in baseball," she said. Salt Lake City is facing a projected $4.2 million budget deficit by this summer. Corradini won't rule out using city funds for a stadium, but she would prefer help from the private sector.

In the meantime, she doesn't know how much repairs to Derks would cost, and the city has no plans to make repairs before the season opens.

The Salt Lake Trappers will play their upcoming baseball season as planned at Derks. Although the stadium's capacity will sink to about 8,500, Trappers general manager Dave Baggott said he hopes to make the best of the situation - even poking good-natured fun at it.

"I think opening night will be hard-hat night," he said. "We're trying to take a negative and turn it into a positive. We want people to know that where there is a seat, there is safety. Maybe that will be our new slogan."

For big games, the team may allow people to sit along the wall lining the outfield, as it has in the past, Baggott said.

Last season, the Trappers, who play in an A league, the lowest level of minor league baseball, averaged about 6,000 fans per game. Baggott said that was the third highest average among minor league teams of all levels, surpassed only by Buffalo and Louisville.

The unusable seats are located to either side of home plate above the box-seat level. (See accompanying chart.) They normally sell for $4.50 per game for adults and $2.75 for children. All box seats still will be available, and the section directly behind home plate is sound.

Corradini said the city will erect a temporary lining in a tunnel behind home plate to keep chips of concrete from falling on fans. Concession stands also will be moved to safer areas.

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The engineering report referred to beams in the unusable sections that are unsafe. Corradini said there is a possibility the closed sections could collapse under the weight of people. The rest of the stadium was deemed safe.

Although it owns the stadium, the city has done little to maintain Derks Field during its lifetime other than make emergency repairs. The one exception is a new $14,000 sound system the city installed for this season.

A triple-A baseball team occupied the stadium until 1984. Baggott said Derks was suitable for triple-A ball at that time. Since then, cities have built scaled-down versions of big league ballparks for minor league teams. Derks no longer could attract a triple-A club.

Corradini said a new state-of-the-art stadium would include luxury boxes and a restaurant, among other things.

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