210 N. Griffith
On the evening of May 23, 1940, with the El Dorado Municipal Band in concert, dedication ceremonies took place for “The Baseball Plant” – McDonald Stadium’s original name. Though the entire stadium was not yet finished, the remainder of the field was in place for the evenings dedication. Total construction cost scarcely exceeded $26,000. The stadium could easily seat 900 spectators with parking for 500 vehicles. Upon completion, the field was known across Kansas as one of the most complete and modern sports centers in Kansas.
Credit for “The Baseball Plant” was given to the El Dorado Baseball and Softball Association. The city and numerous other persons also contributed to the construction of the first baseball diamond in El Dorado.
The plot of land where the stadium was built was referred to as Central Park. Between 1940 and 1942 “The Baseball Plant” became known as Central Park Stadium. 1942 marked a milestone in the history of Central Park Stadium as well as El Dorado’s youth recreational programs. That was the year Mr. James W. McDonald arrived in El Dorado to assume the position of head football coach at the high school.
Jim McDonald started a summer youth recreational program in 1943. During his 29 years of service as summer recreational director of El Dorado, literally thousands of children benefited from his work. Before a large crowd on July 8, 1962, 3000 of his youth participants stunned Wichita baseball fans as they paraded the field clad in their baseball uniforms. On that evening boys and girls attended as special guests of the National Baseball Congress, assembling in Wichita’s Lawrence Stadium to demonstrate the vast number of youth participating in the El Dorado summer recreational program.
Ray Dumont, President of the NBC, delivered a message to nearly 5,000 people at the June 4, 1962 recreational program kick-off. Mr Dumont stated: “The National Baseball Congress salutes El Dorado Youth Baseball. We consider this program, per population of the city, the largest, not only in Kansas, but in the nation. James McDonald and his associates are to be congratulated for their outstanding achievements throughout the years.”
Ten years later on July 27, 1972, as a means of attributing honor and gratitude, Central Park Stadium became McDonald Stadium. A plaque presented to McDonald explained the semantics behind the stadium’s name – “This stadium is dedicated to James W. (Mac) McDonald for his unsurpassed contribution to the youth of El Dorado.”