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Residents March Today to Protest Demolition of Tinker Field

March 6, 2014 | WMFE, Orlando - Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr gave his only speech in Orlando, and this evening a march will be held in support of preserving the ball park where the speech took place. Downtown's Tinker Field was scheduled for demolition to make room for Citrus Bowl renovations, but a movement has sprung up to save it from the wrecking ball.

[Image: Tinker Field in Orlando]

Advocates of saving Tinker Field can count Orlando’s Historic Preservation Board among their ranks – on Wednesday, the board voted unanimously in favor of pursuing landmark status for the ball park.

But that decision must be approved by the City Council, and city commissioners are divided on the issue. A host of citizens’ groups are trying to convince lawmakers that Tinker Field is worth saving.

Community organizer Lawanna Gelzer says people who saw Dr. King speak at Tinker Field in 1964 will share their experiences at a town hall meeting after this evening’s march.

"We’re really just honoring that he was here," says Gelzer, "and we’re also bringing more attention to the historical factors that Tinker Field brings to Orlando and Central Florida.”

Tinker Field has hosted baseball games since 1914 and was the spring training home of baseball greats like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and Joe DiMaggio.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has paused plans to tear down Tinker and says he’s willing to consider ways to preserve its legacy.


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