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Sellers of a property in western Springfield are emphasizing decades of history and an attachment to a Major League Baseball team, instead of its connection to a notorious motorcycle club and a recent investigation into a drive-by shooting.
The commercial property at 811 S. West Ave. was listed for sale in late May. The two-story building offers a three-sided bar, two restrooms and plenty of space for a dance floor or pool table.
Above are two 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartments with external access to the back of the building. The lot is more than a half an acre in size, offering room for about 20 off-street parking spots, according to the listing.
Sharon Elkins, the realtor listing the property, said it has a history rich with connections to baseball. It used to be the concession stand for Memorial Stadium, the home of the Springfield Cubs, a farm team for the Chicago Cubs.
Count Elkins as one of the many who had no idea that Springfield was once a home for the hated rival of the St. Louis Cardinals.
“When the owners were walking me through, I saw a baseball and glove in a glass box,” Elkins said. “I recognized the era the glove was from, because my dad had one. When I asked where that came from, that’s when (the owners) told me the history of the building.”
The stadium didn’t last long, according to information from the Springfield-Greene Couunty Library. The team played in 1948 and 1950 in a stadium that was unfinished. The team played well, finishing 74-61 in ‘50, but Springfield fans did not turn out to watch the team.
Because of low turnout, the Cubs organization stopped spending money on building the stadium, and pulled the team out of town, according to the library’s website. No other team could be found for the stadium. Later in the ‘50s it was razed to build a housing development.
Recent shooting investigation
The property was in news reports in 2022 in connection with an investigation into a drive-by shooting. At the time, the property was in use as a headquarters for a Springfield chapter of Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
Officials with the Springfield Police Department and FBI searched the property on May 2, 2022 for information on the shooting, which had allegedly taken place on April 27. According to reports, one person was injured in the shooting.
Ely Tyler Oakley, 37, of Springfield, has been charged with counts of first degree assault, armed criminal action and shooting a firearm from a motor vehicle, according to court records. His case remains pending. Police in 2022 said the building was a known hangout for the 1-percenter motorcycle club.
Potential for development
Elkins, of Beverly Hills 417 Real Estate, said the owners seek more space and “elbow room.” She said she was not authorized by the owners to say more than that about the reasons for selling, or the criminal investigation.
She highlighted commercial and residential potential for the building, however. As a biker herself, she said the property would make an outstanding biker bar perfect for attracting travelers on rides, or en route to rallies.
The property is currently zoned for commercial activity, but if a buyer were interested in getting the property rezoned, the two apartments offer opportunity for residential living, she said.
“It’s just a great building,” Elkins said. “Someone would be lucky to get it, if they have a vision for it, and use the history behind it.”
The Citizen requested interviews from the building owners and the Springfield Police Department, and will update this report with responses if given.