Comments (2) 12:00 PM posted by admin |
On December 22, 2004, I wrote the following about the Water Street site:
My real pet project would be minor league baseball. A stadium much like the one the Toledo Mud Hens have could be built and have commercial / dining space around it much like they have in Toledo. It would solve the problem of living on PCBs. And it would attract people to the City.
Am I a visionary? Those are your words, not mine.
There has long been an investment group whose goal has been to bring minor league baseball to Ypsilanti. The idea has not received much of a reception from the ruling class. Despite a long history of struggles, the Water Street project is still seen as a mixed-use site filled with retail and expensive townhouses.
Don’t get me wrong. The Joseph Freed & Associates proposal was absolutely stunning. Gorgeous. Ypsilanti would have been lucky to have such a development here. The problem with the proposal is that it was about as practical as my dream of living in a house that looked like the Guggenheim Bilbao.
This investment group seems to meet all the time nowadays. The main facilitator in all of this told me they were just going to build it and see if anyone noticed.
This begs the question, should the City involve itself in minor league baseball?
The City shouldn’t be involving itself in anything. We’ve involved ourselves far too much in the project so far. Our role should be to put policies in place that encourage development. It’s not up to us to dicate what should be built there. That decision is up to the people with the money. And if someone wants to go out and buy a minor league baseball team and build a stadium here, my advice is, go nuts with it.
And I’m not just saying this because I want to throw out the first pitch on opening day.
If you look at how downtown stadiums have revitalized Toledo, Lansing, Washington, PA, and Slippery Rock, PA, you’ll quickly realize just how unbelievable this would be for the City.
It would be up to the investment group to determine which team they purchased, but it wouldn’t have to be a AAA or AA team to make economic sense. The Toledo Mud Hens or the Lansing Lug Nuts aren’t going anywhere.
If it were my money, I’d be targeting the independent Frontier League.
The Frontier League, headquartered in Troy, Illinois is made up of twelve teams:
- Chillicothe Panthers (OH)
- Evansville Otters (IL)
- Florence Freedom (KY)
- Gateway Grizzlies (IL)
- Kalamazoo Kings (MI)
- River City Rascals (MO)
- Rockford Riverhawks (IL)
- Slippery Rock Sliders (PA)
- Southern Illinois Miners (IL)
- Traverse City Beach Bums (MI)
- Washington Wild Things (PA)
- Windy City Thunderbolts (IL)
In 2006, Traverse City drew 203,574, Gateway 182,124, Washington 152,805, and Evansville 130,212, Kalamazoo 119,530, and Rockford 115,776.
There are currently two teams in the Frontier League that have suspended play in 2007. The Mid-Missouri Mavericks are building a new stadium and the Ohio Valley Redcoats are looking for a new home.
The teams in the Frontier League play 96 games, with 48 of those being at home. That’s 4,000 people a night coming to our city to eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores all summer. That’s not bad. And when you consider the old residential proposal for Water Street calls for about 1,500 new, full-time residents, it’s awesome.
Tigers Stadium in Detroit is only 8.5 acres. A 7,000 seat stadium would require less than that meaning there would still be over 30 acres for parking, dining, retail, and riverfront park space. Add meeting space to the stadium and it becomes a year-round conference center. As long we don’t have a railroad running through centerfield, we’re golden.
I’m actually giddy with excitement, and I’m not usually one to get giddy.
We’ll call them the Ypsilanti Liberators. Every time a homerun is hit, the scoreboard will flash, “Bomb them again!” During rallies, the crowd will chant, “We can do it!” The mascot would naturally be Rosie the Riveter. And the first name to go up on the Ring of Honor would be that of Mr. Wizard himself, Don Herbert, who flew 56 missions as a Liberator pilot over Northern Italy, Germany, and Yugoslavia, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross. If his family wasn’t down with that, we could use Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart as a fall-back.
I can almost taste the corn-on-the-cob-on-a-stick covered in mayonaisse and cheese that Dos Hermanos would sell in the concession stands. Add to that vendors hawking Frog Island and Arbor Brewing Company beer, and this is can’t miss.
Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Oh wait. Nevermind.
I’ve decided that I no longer want to throw out the first pitch. I think I should be the General Manager.
See you all in the spring of 2011 at Rose Will Monroe Field.
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