Bernie Robbins Stadium in Atlantic City, N.J. - formerly known as Sandcastle Stadium - is only 12 years old, but it's already worn out its welcome. Built in 1998 for the Atlantic City Surf independent baseball team, the stadium saw the team change ownership and leagues, ultimately folding in 2009. Now, as The Press of Atlantic City reporters Dan Good and Michael Clark write, the structure has fallen into severe disrepair:
Today, the stadium's only occupants are trespassing vagrants, possible drug dealers and a gaggle of geese. The windows of the luxury boxes are shattered. The path where base runners tried to turn singles into doubles is overrun with weeds. Bird feces, inches thick, coat the third-base stairway leading into the stadium. Four or five steps' worth, too. ...
[T]he playing field is faded and dull. Ducks graze in what used to be right field. The infield, covered in crabgrass, in need of a groundskeeper, resembles one of the city's dozens of barren lots.
A half-foot of water pools in the dugouts, where cleats used to rest. Empty cans of Goya coconut juice are in the dugout corners, near the bat racks.
Branches poke through the outfield walls - the sections of the wall that haven't disappeared or that have been covered with graffiti sprayings of male genitals. Graffiti also covers the stadium's bricks, the doors, the walls - any vertical surface, really. Some entranceways are boarded-up.
In the stands where fans used to sit, caution tape winds across exposed, crumbling brick. Upstairs, 12-year-old concrete is filled with fault lines
And those are the stadium's nicer parts.
Trash dumps are better organized than some of the stadium's inner rooms, ransacked by thieves and vandals. Rotting garbage festers, forgotten by rodents and maggots, remembered by nostrils.
You can see through the club box walls, holes marking the places where copper wiring used to run. People named Shawty and Jeff autographed the cabinets and furniture in white acrylic. The autographs are dated 2009, the year the stadium last breathed.
In August 2009, Atlantic City's public works director Paul Jerkins assured residents that resurrecting the stadium was a priority. "The major focus is making sure the stadium can be used, to bring it back up to shape," he told The Press. More than a year later, the stadium's condition has worsened. "When we were looking at this last year, we were anticipating that we would have the funds to bring it up to a usable level," Jerkins said recently. "It didn't happen. The funds weren't available."
For an up-close look at a good stadium gone bad, click here.