“When we got some of the prices, some of the bidding, some of the things that we were looking at trying to install, it was more expensive than we anticipated,” city engineer Andy Lutz told the Board of Public Works in June. “I’ll be the first to admit that.” When the park is finished, it will have three elite multi-use fields, instead of four, and no concession pavilion or additional parking spaces. The anticipated price tag is $5.1 million, to be paid by the Rebuild Indy fund created from the 2010 sale of the city water utility. Building the park to the original plan would have cost as much as $10 million.
The World Sports Park has been fertile ground for partisan rhetoric since April 2013, when Republican Mayor Greg Ballard revealed during a trip to India that the city would host a U.S. cricket championship game. Until then, most City-County Council members, including many Republicans, were unaware of plans for the World Sports Park. At the time, the council was reviewing the city’s $1 billion budget for further cuts and facing a gap for this year upwards of $40 million.
City officials said the park could be a revenue-generator, as a national cricket tournament was slated for a three-year run starting in August. Then in May, because of organizational dysfunction at the USA Cricket Association, the city canceled plans for the tournament. The Department of Public Works and Indy Parks are no longer talking about sponsorships or other revenue-generating agreements for the park.
The World Sports Park was not included in a request for proposals last fall that aimed to find private operators for city parks, parks spokeswoman Maureen Faul said. That RFP process is not final, she said. She would not say whether the parks department is still seeking a private operator for the park. Lutz told the public works board that maintenance would be rolled into the same budget that covers 207 other city parks . . .Despite how obvious for all to see what a debacle this project has proven to be, DPW Director Lori Miser defends it as "a very well though-out use for this park." One of the things the administration hasn't figured out yet is how much maintenance costs on the park are going to cost. Those costs will be absorbed by the parks budget, which means cuts will need to be made elsewhere to make up for the astronomically high costs that will be incurred for a park built as a favor to a handful of campaign contributors of the mayor. The IBJ learns from others knowledgeable in the maintenance and care of cricket fields that "irrigation needs will be high and maintenance is a daily job." DPW says it has trained its maintenance crews in the upkeep of cricket pitches, which are built from "6 inches of clay soil with grass cut to 3 millimeters" to create the effect of a "very fast golf green." It should be fun watching these trained maintenance people trying to maintain cricket pitches.