Field of Broken Dreams — The Abandoned New England Sportsplex

Posted: May 6, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Manchester CT, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Three Strikes Out, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vernon, writing
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Field of Broken Dreams

The Abandoned New England Sportsplex

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks. I don’t care if I ever get back. So let’s root root root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame. For it’s One. Two. Three Strikes. You’re out, at the old ballgame. The lyrics sound very different when you simply read them, not sing them. I could almost faintly hear that classic tune floating through the air as we walked across the now silent New England Sportsplex. It was a sunny afternoon in early May, the perfect time for a baseball game. But there’s nothing here anymore. What was once a beloved classic song of fun and enjoyment became a haunting tune for this old abandoned ballpark. The laughter of children and the cheers of the crowds long since passed still echoed across the overgrown wasteland. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself, how had it come to this?

It began back in 1994. There was a strong interest in the local community of Vernon, Connecticut, to build a new recreational center. Local softball leagues, both for adults and children, were looking for a place to play in their area. So, with a purchase of two million dollars, construction began on the New England Sportsplex. It was at the time to be the largest softball park in all of New England. It was comprised of four fenced in and lit diamonds, a snack bar, and an on sight bathroom facility. The complex would be able to house an estimated five thousand fans at a time. Since the land was in a non-residential area, the town of Vernon had high hopes for it. The future was bright. But as we all know, nothing ever goes quite according to plan. Due to a steady decline in interest and complications with the nearby wetlands, the park was eventually closed and left abandoned.

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We visited the abandoned New England Sportsplex on a Sunday in early May 2015. We had seen it from the neighboring I-84 multiple times in the past, but had never been able to actually stop and investigate. The old complex is right off the highway, and very visible if you are headed eastbound towards the Mass Pike. Though the fields have become overgrown and lost to the vegetation, the old score boards still peek out from the brush. The forgotten bathroom facility and snack bar are now boarded up and covered with graffiti. A large FOR SALE sign is pointed towards the passing highway, though it is much less noticeable than the abandoned complex standing behind it. There is a patrolled commuter lot and a local park on the same street as the old complex. Chain link fences surround the entire perimeter of the complex, though we did not find a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign posted along the property.

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Walking through the abandoned New England Sportsplex was like something out of a bad dream. Two chained gates stand guard at the entrance of the park. What looks like it used to be the old parking lot is still sitting out front. The main road through the complex is also still intact, though it is slowly crumbling due to its lack of care. Each scoreboard from all four diamonds is still standing, and they each appear to be in relatively good shape. The diamonds themselves, however, are completely overgrown with brush and weeds. We had hoped to find a few bases, maybe even a pitching mound, lost in the undergrowth. But we had no such luck. Curiously enough, all of the cement dugouts from each field are also still intact. We found various items inside them, including a turned over picnic table. The bathroom facility and snack bar are both heavily boarded up. There was no way inside without breaking in.

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Tom Hanks famously said in A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying in baseball.” But I believe there must’ve been at least a few teary eyes in the house when this place closed. In the immortal Kevin Costner classic Field of Dreams they say, “If you build it, he will come.” But nothing came off this failed establishment. Over the years, corporations and town committees have fought over the land. Since it is in plain view of the highway and right next to the on/off ramp, the land has always been a desirable location to build a large super store. It was almost a done deal with Home Depot a few years ago, but nothing has ever come of it. The land still sits empty and abandoned. There are no more good times. There are no more home runs. There are no more peanuts and crackerjacks. Because in life, just like baseball, its one. Two. Three strikes. You’re out.

Comments
  1. Purplemunkydishwasher says:

    The fields were actually pretty successful, they were run by a few guys who were leasing the land from its owner, the reason they lay abandoned now, was the owner of the land had worked out a deal to bring a Wal-mart and Home Depot to the land, which for many reasons was fought by the local residents, but it ultimately was turned down do to the aquifer that lies directly underneath the land.

    The owner of the land is suspected to have allowed the entire plot to turn into this eyesore out of spite for him loosing out on the Walmart deal.

    Like

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