Strong winds destroy roof, press box in Kenai park

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion The roof and portions of the grandstand Coral Seymour Memorial Park, or Oiler Park, blew off during an episode of heavy wind gusts Saturday May 31, 2014 in Kenai, Alaska.

When a tin roof goes, everybody knows.

The sound was as unmistakable as it was loud when Ken and Cameron Cole and James Clark watched the wind lift the roof and walls off of the press box Saturday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park where the Peninsula Oilers are scheduled to begin their baseball season in a week.

“There were boards ripping, nails coming out. It sounded like tin shaking in the wind,” said Clark, general manager of the Oilers team.

A south wind was forecasted to blow through the central Kenai Peninsula Saturday with gusts up to 40 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

As the wind continued to gust through the park, whipping through screens and shaking plywood debris, the three stood looking at the disastrous scene in front of them.

The bathrooms and concession stand are covered in debris, chunks of the walls of the grandstand, and netting — though the grandstand itself is still standing.

The baseball players will arrive in town Thursday and the organization’s first game is scheduled for June 8 at 2 p.m.

“It’s frustrating,” Clark said. “We were making good progress. Now, the grandstands won’t be open this year, at all. We’ll have no PA system, no music, none of the fun stuff.”

The baseball team is run by the Peninsula Oilers Baseball Club, Inc., a non-profit that is barely breaking even each season, Ken Cole, vice-president of the club, said.

Each year, something falls victim to the wind, usually a section of the wall behind the outfield.

Some within the organization had been looking into purchasing disaster insurance as the group just finished repairing a section of the wall — but nothing has been purchased yet.

“We’re a day late and a dollar short,” Ken Cole said.

The two said they were hoping to have help clearing the debris from the park so the summer schedule could go on as planned.

“We have no budget for this stuff,” Clark said. “I’m not sure what this will do to our season.”

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

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