As part of a multi-year effort creating improvements at Shawnee Park, Mayor Greg Fischer and other local officials dedicated the newly upgraded and historic Dirt Bowl courts Tuesday morning. The annual Dirt Bowl tournament, in its 48th year, begins this year on Saturday, June 17 at Shawnee Park.
Many of the city’s and region’s leading hoops figures– including Darrell Griffith, Tony Kimbro, Artis Gilmore, Louie Dampier and Derek Anderson – have competed in the tournament. In addition to the high-quality of competition in the tournament, the Dirt Bowl is also been recognized as cultural and social summertime institution in west Louisville.
Just last year, a book titled “I Said Bang: A History Of The Dirt Bowl” was released by the Louisville Story Project outlining the significance of the tournament, from its beginnings in 1969 when it was created by Janis Carter and Ben Watkins.
In conjunction with an underground basin project that is ongoing in the park and is slated to continue through 2018, MSD has committed to making several improvements to the park, including new playing surfaces at Hornung Field, a new open-air pavilion and restrooms and the restoration of the lily pond and Ball House – the future home of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative.
“These changes will transform the park and bring amenities that will be enjoyed at Shawnee Park for generations to come,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “The short-term inconvenience due to MSD’s work in the park will result in a long-term gain.”
“I’m so glad that the MSD basin project has made the improvements to the Dirt Bowl courts possible. They are heavily used courts and will be able to extend the enjoyment and usage of the courts for years to come for patrons of all ages,” said Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, who represents District 5, which includes Shawnee Park.
The work on the basketball courts consists of new fiberglass backboards, a scoreboard, concrete pads and bleachers as well as an enhanced electrical system for the court and nearby surroundings. The courts have also been slightly moved so that the evening sun will not be in the player’s faces, something that has been a long been a challenge at the Dirt Bowl.
“Everything about the Dirt Bowl experience, from the people in the stands listening to the call of the game and watching it on the court, to the players participating in it, will be enhanced because of this work,” said Seve Ghose, Director of Metro Parks and Recreation. “These are crowd-pleasing improvements and we’re looking forward to a great summer at Shawnee Park.”