In this episode of Ballparks around the World, we pay attention to the home field of L&D Amsterdam Pirates: Loek Loevendie Ballpark. The facility opened in the year 2000 and was renamed after the founder of Pirates, Loek Loevendie in 2019.
Of course, Pirates started as a baseball branch of the Amsterdam based soccer club RAP in 1959. After spending a several years at the sports facility of RAP, the baseball branch moved to the Western part of Amsterdam and renamed itself and adopted the name Pirates and left RAP for good in 1974.
Loek Loevendie, one of the founders of Pirates, was very active in coaching and teaching kids the game of baseball. He laid the foundation of the famed youth training of Pirates. For children and club members, Loevendie is known as Ome Loek (Uncle Loek).
The facility was improved over the years. Eventually, a fine clubhouse was erected behind the right-field fence. Because of the short right field, a lot of home runs ended at the terrace of the clubhouse through the years. At the end of the 90s, the clubhouse started to show signs of deterioration. As the city of Amsterdam eyed the facility to build houses, negotiations started about moving the club to a different part of Amsterdam. Eventually, both parties agreed on moving to Sportpark Ookmeer, a bit more to the West of Amsterdam. Nice to know: Former Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius spent the early years of his childhood playing at the facility at the Jan van Galenstraat before his parents decided to move back to Curaçao.
In 2000 the brand new facility was christened. It took the club nine years to clinch its first championship at the new facility. Two more would follow in 2011 and 2019.
The new ballpark of Amsterdam Pirates has an indoor training facility. On top the clubhouse is constructed with an adjacent terrace. The seating capacity of the grandstand is 400. Perhaps it is not much but with the current attention for Dutch baseball, it is sufficient. Besides that, a lot of fans are standing on the terrace as they follow the game holding a(n alcoholic) beverage. Even when the small grandstand isn’t filled completely, it always looked filled rather well, which improves the atmosphere. Compared to this facility, the Family Stadium in Rotterdam, which is a fine facility as well, always looks very empty with an average of 80-100 fans per game in a stadium with a 2,500 seat capacity.
The dimensions of the main baseball field are:
Leftfield: 100 meters (328 ft)
Centerfield: 122 meters (400 ft)
Rightfield: 100 meters
Even though the ballpark is still relatively new, it is a work in progress. The club and the city of Amsterdam keep improving the ballpark. Last year, the playing surface of the main field was replaced by artificial turf. Recently, the construction of a roofed batting cage was started as you can see on the left.
The ballpark has been home to of the two 2011 preliminary rounds of the European Champions Cup which hosted clubs like Fortitudo Bologna (Italy), Hoboken Pioneers (Belgium), Heidenheim Heideköpfe (Germany), Sant Boi (Spain), and NorthStars (Russia).
The areal below shows the whole Loek Loevendie Ballpark with the main field on the bottom left, a second baseball field top left and two little league/softball fields.
At the start of the club’s 60th anniversary, the ballpark was named after one of the founders of the club and club icon Loek Loevendie. The new turf, the new name and the 2019 championship marked the anniversary year.