Bush Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA was home to Minor League Baseball’s Indianapolis Indians from the time it was built in the 1930s until 1997 when it was turned into a dirt track and renamed 16th Street Speedway. After falling into a state of abandonment for a number of years, the stadium was converted into lofts and now goes by the name of Stadium Lofts & Flats.
The stadium was originally constructed in 1931 as the home of the Indianapolis Indians. At the time, Norm Perry owned the team and he called it Perry Stadium as a memorial to his brother Jim who had died in a plane crash a number of years earlier. Jim Perry had owned the team before his brother. The construction company behind the project was Cleveland, Ohio based Osborn Engineering who constructed a number of stadiums including Yankee Stadium in New York and Fenway Park in Boston. The Indianapolis Indians played their first game at Perry Stadium on September 5th 1931. A number of Negro American League teams called Perry Field home during the 1930s, although none for any length of time. These included the ABCs, American Giants, Athletics and Crawfords.
The team was sold to Frank E. McKinney and Donie Bush in December 1941 and they renamed it Victory Field in January 1942 as a response to World War II. In 1944, the Cincinnati Clowns of the Negro American League began to play some of their games at Victory Field and in 1946, they moved permanently to become the Indianapolis Clowns, giving the stadium two resident teams. They won the league in 1952, by which point, the Indians had integrated. The Clowns played on until 1962. They were notable for featuring Toni Stone, the first female Negro League player in history. The Clowns continued on after the league had disbanded as a barnstorming team, much like basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters.
In 1952, the Indianapolis Indians was sold to the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball but after losing a significant of money on the venture, they attempted to move them just 4 years later. A campaign was launched to save the team and a total of 20,488 shares were purchased by 6,672 investors, keeping the team in Indianapolis. Former Major League Baseball player and previous part-owner, Donie Bush, became president of the team and remained as such until 1969.
In 1967, the city of Indianapolis bought the ballpark and leased it back to the Indians. The Indianapolis Capitols American football team played at Bush Stadium from 1968 to 1970. They joined the Continental Football League for two seasons before moving to the Atlantic Coast Football League for a year. They disbanded at the end of that season.
By the late 1980s, Bush Stadium was starting to show its age and it was decided to build a new home for the Indians at the new Victory Field in White River State Park. The first game at the new stadium was on July 11 1996. The following year, the now abandoned stadium was leased by Tony George of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway who converted it into a dirt track which he called the 16th Street Speedway. The speedway was closed after just two years and the stadium became abandoned once again. It remained as such for a time, controlled by the Indy Parks Department.
In 2011, a plan was passed to turn the stadium into an apartment complex and demolition on Bush Stadium began in March 2012. The design of the new apartments keeps much of the original stadium infrastructure and actually keeps the baseball diamond in the design. Much of the exterior facade was retained. In fact, the apartment buildings are even being built in the same shape as the old stadium so it now looks very much like it did when in use as a ballpark.
Like the rollercoasters which were salvaged after Six Flags New Orleans was abandoned, some of the old Bush Stadium was salvaged and reused, notably the seats. The folding orange and yellow bucket seats were used at bus stops by IndyGo, as well as community and park facilities throughout the city.