Last night I wandered around the Ballpark neighborhood, which was bustling with preparations for opening day, thinking about how much this area has changed since the decision was made to put the baseball stadium just beyond the LoDo Historic District. Thinking about how the Ballpark neighborhood might never have been without Karle Seydel, who is not here for this opening day.
Seydel grew up in Denver, and his heart was always here...here, in the oldest parts of the city. An urban planner, he served as the director of the Upper Larimer business district when the businesses in those blocks were mostly bars and pawn shops, and then, when Denver won a major-league franchise and boosters started looking for a spot for the stadium, he pushed hard to have it placed in the historic heart of Denver. And not just have it placed there, but make sure it fit into its surroundings, with the classic feel of an old-time ballpark, nestled in century-old buildings rather than parking lots.
Against all odds -- including developers pushing other locations, other designs --- Seydel won. And the result was Coors Field, which opened in 1995 but, just as Seydel envisioned, looks like it has always been a part of this city.
Just as Seydel was a part of this city.
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Karle Seydel passed away, unexpectedly, last May just as baseball season -- the season he so loved -- was getting into full swing. Friends have pushed for some kind of plaque to commemorate the role he played in pushing this neighborhood as the location for Coors Field, but so far, that effort has stalled.
Today, though, we will all remember.
It's not whether you win, it's where you play the game. Thanks, Karle.
Read Calhoun's "Street Dreams" column on Eddie Maestas, the unofficial mayor of Larimer and another Ballpark neighborhood pioneer, here.