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Jun 19

V Is For Victory

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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  1. Comment by Joe
    June 19, 2007 @ 1:56 pm

    Ah, yes! The most misunderstood study on taxes in recent history, quoted once again on the baneful existence of residential properties and their associated drain on the public coffers!

    Don’t believe it! Here is a link to the study for you to read yourself:

    To summarize, the study takes into account all taxes on properties and then what services those properties are given. The HUGE flaw is that the cost of schools is completely assigned to residential. Therefore, all school taxes paid by businesses are considered revenue for which they demand no service (because people that work at businesses in the community have no children in school? I don’t know…), and since residential properties do not pay all school taxes, they appear to over consume. This doesn’t even mention the fact that THE TAXES PAID TO THE TOWNSHIP DON’T FUND SCHOOLS!!! The state does, and when someone moves from Ann Arbor to Ypsi the tax burden does not increase in Ypsi and decrease in Ann Arbor.

    If we compare the data excluding schools, Tables 27 & 28 show expenses for residential properties are about $0.9M. Table 13 shows revenue from residential properties is $1.7M. So residential property results in 1.89 times as much revenue as expenses. The same tables show Ag has $30K revenue vs. $32K expenses. For commercial, do you include the DDA? If you do (this is taxes that come out of the public coffers and are used by the DDA to promote business and infrastructure around businesses) it shows Commercial/Retail has $1.3M in expenses to the community for every $0.55M in revenue, or a 2.36 times as much expenses as revenue. So basically, at least in Scio, residential properties are subsidizing local businesses and businesses subidize education costs when the costs of schools are included.

  2. Comment by teaspout
    June 19, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

    In 1995, Battle Creek, Michigan, became a minor league baseball franchise city.

    Wikipedia has a nice article on its rise and fall:

    We thought that such a franchise would mean G-RR-EAT things for the city.
    At first there was quite the buzz. But it didn’t last.

    As Wikipedia reports,
    “In January of 2006, it was confirmed that the Devil Rays would be sold to the non-profit Michigan Baseball Foundation and relocated to Midland, Michigan. The team has been renamed the Great Lakes Loons. The main reason the team is relocating is because of the lack of interest in the Battle Creek community. Even reduced tickets and a night when the fans actually were paid a dollar to come to that night’s game failed to pique the interest of local residents.”

    In the end, my brother who saw the value in the possible future rarity of the Battle Cats hat may have been the wisest of us all.

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