The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

November 28, 2013

Paul and Joan Allen sparked the city’s resurgence with their investment in downtown Enid

ENID, Okla. — It started with a ballpark — actually just a dream about building a ballpark in a run-down area of old and mostly abandoned industrial and commercial buildings in central Enid.

Wow, look at it now.

What in 1997 was an assortment of decaying industrial buildings now is David Allen Memorial Ballpark, one of the nation’s premiere amateur baseball facilities. It also was the catalyst for robust downtown growth.

Just look around at what downtown Enid now has that it didn’t have 16 years ago: a 4,000-seat, multipurpose events center, abundant parking, a beautifully renovated Convention Hall, a newly renovated Non-Profit Center, and many inside and outside improvements to private commercial buildings.  

The many examples of private business investment are most impressive. The former Pastimes, now Napoli’s Italian Restaurant, and Park Avenue Thrift and the new Downtown Kitchen Store are three great examples right next to the ballpark.

Looking around the courthouse square, you see more — much more. And coming soon, a 130-room downtown hotel.

It’s not just buildings, either. It’s the activity that comes with the improvements: baseball and basketball games and tournaments, concerts, conventions, fun new places to shop, trade shows, great music, galleries, races, national speakers, outdoor events … OK, you get the point.

That’s at lot. And it started with a dream for a ballpark.

The dreamers — Paul and Joan Allen — are due a huge outpouring of thanks for their vision and investment.

The Allens, who also co-founded Advance Food Co. in Enid, paid to build the ballpark, which operates as a partnership with the city of Enid and Enid Public Schools.

Paul and Joan also invested heavily with their time and passion, often working at the ballpark and taking personal interest in the lives and development of young ballplayers.

The all-weather turf installed this fall at the ballpark is just the latest of the Allens’ ongoing contributions.

David Allen Memorial Ballpark is an incredible place to play baseball or softball, whether you are a soon-to-be pro player on an NJCAA World Series team, or a 5-year-old learning to catch at baseball camp.

Thanks, Paul and Joan. Thanks for an incredible ballpark, and thanks for leading the way in a resurgence in downtown Enid.

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