Mike Semmens is making sure there’s almost nothing left over from the Alumni Coliseum baseball field at Montana Tech by the time they get done clearing out.
As manager of the Butte Miners American Legion baseball program, he has to get everything owned by Butte-Silver Bow taken down and hauled away within a few weeks so Tech can be ready for football season. The removal goes so far as to take away the clay dirt infield — special material that was hauled in from Missouri because it packs down and drains.
“We’re going to take as much of this facility as humanly possible, because we don’t have any money to replace it,” Semmens said Monday, as county workers dismantled the seats, took down netting and other elements of the stadium. “If we can knock the walls down and recycle the brick, we’re going to.”
Joe McClafferty, Tech athletic director, said the move is needed because Tech is planning to put down artificial turf on its football field. And the site where the baseball field sits is slated to house a future dorm on campus.
He said the Miners have known the move was coming.
“This isn’t a surprise to them — we explained to them how we’re trying to move forward,” he said. “It’s something that we’ve talked about for a long time and we’ve just got to move on as a community — putting down turf is definitely something that will benefit the campus.”
Alumni Coliseum opened on the Tech campus in 1962. The land was owned by the Anaconda Co. and was later sold by ARCO to Tech for $1.
The Coliseum played host to the Butte Copper Kings, a farm-level minor league team, from 1978 until 2000, when the team moved to Casper, Wyo. One of the reasons the team gave for its departure was the conditions of both the structure and field at Alumni.
The materials from the baseball facility will be stored by the county at the Kelley mine yard until it’s used at a new facility.
For next year, the Miners are planning to play their games at Copper Mountain Park, said head coach Jeff LeProwse. He said their plan is to make some improvements there to get through the next couple seasons.
“It’s going to be a couple tough years, but we’ll move on and keep playing baseball,” he said. “We definitely have to improve the dugouts, improve the infield and install some fencing so we can enclose the fields.”
Semmens said in the long run, they’re hoping to get a facility near the Butte Civic Center to build a permanent home. The Miners have put in a request to the state Natural Resource Damage program for some funding just for a flat piece of land that they could build on.
The toughest part for the next couple years will be scheduling games, since the lack of lights takes nighttime games out of the picture, Semmens said.
And he added that the move has left the Miners disappointed at the way they’ve been treated by Tech.
He said if they had a facility ready to go, it would have been fine. But they don’t and that’s made it difficult.
Semmens said this summer Tech didn’t even turn on the water that supplied the restrooms at the facility, forcing them to use portable toilets.
“If they wanted to do everything in their power to ensure we were leaving, they did it,” he said. “It’s just little things like that that have made this a miserable year.”
Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at email@example.com