Jim Wright doesn't want Salt Lake City to abandon Derks Field and build a fancy new stadium somewhere else.
That's not such an unusual opinion. Many people believe in preserving the history of the 45-year-old baseball facility.But what may seem unusual to some is that Wright is the stadium's closest neighbor. He said he bought his house, on West Temple directly behind the right field wall, because of the stadium.
"The ballpark is full of tradition and history," he said. "I really would like to see it stay."
Indeed, the opinions of neighbors in the economically depressed area around Derks contradict what a committee formed to decide the stadium's fate has been told.
Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini formed the committee after she was forced to close part of Derks for fear the crumbling grandstands soon would collapse. Last week, the committee voted unanimously to recommend abandoning Derks Field and building a new,larger municipal ballpark somewhere else.
A new stadium will cost upwards of $10 million. City officials said fixing Derks would cost about $4 million, but they cautioned the stadium may not be worth fixing because of its location.
The committee's recommendation was influenced partly by city officials who said Derks is a source of complaints from nearby residents who object to the noise and traffic it generates.
But a check of agencies that handle complaints shows that few if any people have complained about the stadium.
Diane Keay, area supervisor of the Salt Lake City-County Health Department's Bureau of Environmental Sanitation and Safety, said the last complaint her office handled about noise from the stadium was before last season.
"In the past we have handled about one complaint a year," she said. "Some of them were from spectators who complained about how loud the music is."
But Keay said some people may not complain because they don't know who to call.
City officials keep a computer log of everyone who calls to complain or request a service. They said many people have called in recent weeks concerning Derks, but nearly everyone had questions about its future, not complaints. One woman called to say she wants the stadium to stay. Otherwise, the city has no record of a complaint in recent years.
Dave Baggott, general manager of the Salt Lake Trappers, the professional baseball team that uses the stadium, said one area resident has complained consistently about the stadium's sound system. The city spent $14,000 last winter to install a new system that will keep the neighborhood more quiet this season, he said.
"Never at one time has anyone come through the stadium gates to talk about any complaint," Baggott said. "I don't think the surrounding residential community should be the main reason to build somewhere else."
In fact, virtually every resident contacted earlier this week expressed a preference for keeping the stadium where it is.
"It doesn't bother us," said Beatrice Gonzales, whose house is behind center field. "In fact, the lights help my husband when he's working in the yard."
Cas Simonson said she occasionally has to shoo away fans who want to park in her asphalt driveway. But she is concerned a decision to abandon the stadium will hurt her economically.
"Mom's upset. She thinks having Derks here will be the only way she can sell this house some day," she said.
Emily Johnson said the only inconvenience comes when friends visit and can't find a place to park because of the baseball fans.
"But this has been going on for so many years. What harm does it do?"
Committee members also cited the lack of parking as a reason to abandon Derks, and they said a new stadium in a downtown location would allow the city to host concerts and other events without worrying about disturbing neighbors.