Cheney Stadium, Tacoma Rainiers

R City Keeps Swinging

If you think hitting a home run is difficult, imagine trying to launch a shot over a 29-foot wall that towers over the diamond, 425 feet away from home plate. Even the mightiest sluggers look at the Great Wall of Cheney and would never imagine belting one over the gargantuan barrier. To mere mortals, it is as an insurmountable feat.

Believe it or not, two mythical blasts have cleared the towering wall of Tacoma. One off the bat of A.J. Zapp (Sept. 1, 2004) and the other by Shin-Soo Choo (May 6, 2005). It wasn’t done in a day, a month or a year. It took 44 seasons of Cheney Stadium baseball for someone to surmount the impossible task, cementing two names in the history books of Tacoma baseball forever.

Take a look around R City, this rapidly booming town filled with people and places who have cleared their own Great Wall of Unlikelihood. It’s a place overseen by a leader who grew up in Tacoma when the people who lived here spent as much time enjoying South Sound life as they did defending it to the outside world. Mayor Victoria Woodards is now a crucial leader in Grit City, the home of over 200,000 proud souls where a switch has flipped in 2019. Tacoma now has every reason to boast about where we’re from.

“Collectively, this city is ours,” the Mayor said. “I was elected to help lead it, but my job is to implement the changes that our citizens want to see.”

As any great slugger will tell you, if you’re going to hit a home run over the Great Wall, you can’t look ahead in the at-bat. You need to give your attention to the next pitch being thrown.

“I’m not focused on my second term,” the Mayor proclaimed. “I’m focused on getting things accomplished now.”

Within this beautiful city lies Old City Hall, a former prominent landmark that rang its bell down Pacific Avenue at the top of each hour in the late 1800’s.

Like the Great Wall, this once incredible icon currently represents a seemingly impossible goal. Graffiti marks the exposed brick, shards of glass litter the dusty floors and echoes of abandonment shriek through the halls of the temple where some of the most important decisions in Tacoma’s history were made.

Maybe in another city, nobody would dare take on the daunting task of revitalizing the hall which has laid barren for over a decade. In Tacoma, this city of opportunity, it was a group of South Sound innovators in Surge Tacoma who had to outbid other local entrepreneurs and real estate developers for rights to refurbish the building, proving that this is a city where you not only have to be willing to get down and dirty, but be willing to compete to work the hardest and create the most growth.

You can’t find a closer example of Tacoma’s refusal to acknowledge a task as ‘too much to handle’ than right here at Cheney Stadium.

In 1960, Ben Cheney and his construction team created the “100-Day Wonder”, which underwent another colossal overhaul nearly a decade ago. Now, as the stadium’s family grows with the likes of Tacoma Defiance and Reign FC, Tacoma Rainiers President Aaron Artman and the We R Tacoma team are marching toward another daring excursion: building a soccer-specific stadium on the outskirt of Cheney Stadium’s footprint.

“Getting to work on a project designed specifically for soccer is exciting,” Artman said.  We have a chance to get the views right, the supporter area right, and get their input on it. We can have perfect sight lines for soccer.”

Tacoma is filled with people who see a 29-foot wall at 425 feet away, and instead of stepping out of the batter’s box, they keep their eye on the ball and swing with confidence that they’ll clear any fence. No matter how massive it is.

When the rest of the world says it can’t be done, the people of R City keep swinging until the job is done.

Related Articles