Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ballard Wants To Build Another Sports Facility

Even though it has become abundantly clear that the City of Indianapolis cannot afford the sports facilities it already has and our parks department's budget has been decimated, Mayor Greg Ballard wants to build a new sports complex at the site of the old Central State Hospital. The IBJ's Anthony Schoettle discusses Ballard's new vision for the site:

City officials are exploring redevelopment options for the former Central State Hospital—including creating a 150-acre sports complex that could include facilities for everything from soccer and baseball to tennis and ice skating.
In preliminary discussions, Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration envisions the venue serving recreational athletes as well as elite athletes who would be housed on the grounds while training for national or international competitions.
“We’ve done a lot of research on that site and we’ve discussed a lot of things with neighbors out there,” said Paul Smith, real estate manager for IndyParks, the city’s parks department. “One idea that’s been discussed has been a sports complex, but it’s just an idea right now.”
City officials have taken the step of putting together preliminary drawings. And people close to the city’s sports movement say Ballard has indicated he likes the idea.
It’s not clear how much such a venue would cost, though sports business experts say it easily could surpass $10 million—a big obstacle at a time the economy is sputtering and property-tax caps are squeezing city revenue.
"Right now, there’s just no money for things like this,” Smith said. “The economy has not been a friend to what’s going on.”
I know exactly how Ballard plans to pay for it. He will use part of the hundreds of millions of dollars the City will be borrowing on the backs of the sewer and water users as part of his utilities deal with Citizens Energy to fund this completely needless project. There isn't a city in America as stupid as Indianapolis when it comes to diverting taxpayer assets to support sports-related activities at the expense of  other basic services that government provides. We have the worst public schools in the country, and all our leaders can envision for our future is building yet another sports facility. We have a skating rink downtown at Pan Am Plaza, which we just had to have in order to host the Pan Am Games back in the 1980s, that will be demolished to make room for new development. We're also demolishing that world class Indianapolis Tennis Center we just had to have to make room for an expanding NCAA. You guessed it. That new facility could replace both of those losses and then some. Schoettle writes:

It could replace the Indianapolis Tennis Center, which is slated for demolition on the southeastern edge of the IUPUI campus in August. It also could house the Indiana World Skating Academy, which expects to get evicted from Pan Am Plaza when its owners redevelop that site.

The site also could include facilities for baseball, soccer, track and field, and other sports, and offer housing, dining and training.

The logic in this town is sickening beyond belief. Our leaders are terminally stuck on stupid.


Downtown Indy said...

Interesting timing on this piece, Gary. I was biking along the backside of the Track and Field facility earlier today and was apalled at its condition.

The light standards have their paint peeled off and are rusting. Weeds are growing inside the fence and the fence itself is being taken over by vines and the volunteer shrubs. The satellite dishes look pretty beat, too.

We see this time and again. Huge sums of money are doled out for spiffy new construction and then there doesn't seem to be money to maintain them. They fall into disrepair then we start hearing about the next great idea and how it will improve teh city's image, etc, etc.

Mom and Dad had a rule - they wouldn't buy me toys if I didn't take care of them. Apparently that lesson never was taught to our city 'leaders.'

Paul K. Ogden said...

"We see this time and again. Huge sums of money are doled out for spiffy new construction and then there doesn't seem to be money to maintain them. They fall into disrepair then we start hearing about the next great idea and how it will improve teh city's image, etc, etc."

Letting buildings fall into disrepair is an old political stunt. It's used to convince people that they need new facilities. It's like with the Guion Creek Elementary school. They didn't maintain it, didn't fix or repair the roof when it started , then they were able to sell to naive folks that the building was falling down and needed to be replaced. If they would have just maintained the building this wouldn't have been an issue.

Jon said...

Let's see we have the Indianapolis Natatorium, the Indianapolis Tennis Center and the old Bush Fields. All were paid for by the taxpayers and all are in disrepair and need to be demolished. Apparently our civic leaders only care about construction companies, architects and bonding companies.

interestedparty said...

My main concern about this idea is centralizing these facilities instead of spreading them out into various areas so many neighborhoods could have a recreational amenity, since it's being touted as for the "little" people as well as the elite.

On the other hand, would this move help that poor neighborhood that can't use its park because of a sport (soccer?) league taking it over on a rental basis?

All those who don't play sports will yell, of course, but I wonder if you can be heard from your couches?

Obese Indiana needs more sports venues for the average person, child and adult.

Jon E. Easter said...

While I think this is a good idea on paper, I don't know how it can be paid for when we have more pressing needs. Doesn't it kind of seem to you that after three years of relatively nothing, Ballard's trying to make everybody forget everything by cramming in a bunch of stuff before his run for re-election?