Even in December of 1977 the lack of parking in downtown Newport was a hot topic. At that time, the Planning Board recommended Cardines Field be turned into a parking lot. Proponents argued that the underutilized Cardines Field existed for sentimental reasons only and that by turning loose the bulldozers – 380 much needed parking spaces could be added to the downtown area.
They further claimed that the only group to use the field was the Sunset League, which drew sparse crowds. That was not the case. In fact, Rogers, Thompson, Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball all played at Cardines. In addition, the field was used in the fall for football and the Newport Recreational Department conducted their youth summer program at the site.
Talk of putting a second deck on the Mary Street parking lot and turning it into a parking garage went nowhere. This was an era when parking meters were nonexistent; Newport’s paid parking lots and the tourism industry were both in their infancy. The Penn Central land across the street from the ballpark was in bankruptcy and the visitor center and Marriott Hotel had not yet been built.
Today, Cardines Field is considered the nicest playing surface in the entire state, except for McCoy Stadium, and is home to the collegiate Newport Gulls.
– Brian Stinson