Another pitch is about to be made for Joe Becker Stadium.
A sports consultant on Monday night is to present to the Joplin City Council a proposal that might involve a new baseball proposal as well other activities for the rebuilt stadium with brand new turf.
Craig Puckett, a sports producer from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, who also works as a self-employed consultant, says he will detail a plan that could bring a variety of events to the stadium.
"I have spent a lot of time working on trying to bring the right fit to Joplin," Puckett said by phone Friday. "I feel like I have a solid plan in place," he said. "So hopefully we can go from there."
But Puckett would not go into any detail about his plan ahead of Monday's meeting.
He did acknowledge that he has been in touch with a startup league, the Southwest League of Professional Baseball, that is lining up teams for a league kickoff in 2019.
"A lot of things they do fit well with what I think Joplin needs to see," Puckett said. But he has been in touch with others as well, he said.
Puckett said he has been eyeing opportunities in Joplin since 2015, when a plan to become a minority partner with the Suarez family in the former Joplin Blasters baseball franchise did not work out.
He has been consulting since then with city officials and visited Joplin in the spring as he scouted options for Joplin's rebuilt baseball stadium. Work to install artificial turf in both Becker and Wendell Redden Stadium infields has recently been completed at a cost of $461,000.
"Joplin has a beautiful stadium and a great city," he said. "With all the independent league sports that are available, I think the key is to have more community involvement and more activity around the ballpark with things other than baseball. I've been looking at ways to have a good time and to win back the city after the last couple of years."
A team of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, the Joplin Blasters, failed financially and lost the franchise a year ago. Owners Oscar, Gabriel and Shawn Suarez had a rocky relationship with the city, twice defaulting on lease agreements for the stadium.
Since then, Puckett has been working with a number of leagues to find what he thinks would be a good fit for Joplin. "I'm trying to bring everyone together and trying to make it happen," he said.
Joplin spent about $5 million rebuilding the Becker stadium after initially setting out to repair it and increase the number of seats at a cost of $2.7 million. The project increased in cost, though, after contractors determined that the structure supporting the stands was rotted and would not support a remodel.
The city of Joplin's plan called for using proceeds of the Blasters lease toward an annual payment of about $150,000 on a $2 million loan that helped finance the rebuilding.
"I plan on presenting a pretty detailed plan of what I think will work. Hopefully they will be on the same page, and we can go from there," Puckett said.
Craig Puckett said he has worked in sports since 2001. He currently works with Disney and ESPN networks as a producer of live sporting events such as college football and basketball.