Wednesday, August 26 2009
EVANSVILLE - Evansville's new downtown arena is not built yet, but NEWS 25 learns plans are already in the works to figure out what to do with Roberts Stadium.
NEWS 25 questioned the Mayor and the Convention and Visitors Bureau Director about what they'd like to see done with the 53-year-old stadium.
All sorts of ideas have been thrown out about how to use the piece of prime property. Everything from tearing it down and turning it into a mall or water park has been mentioned, but NEWS 25 learned more firm plans are already being made.
Right now it's the place to go for concerts, shows, and large entertainment gatherings. Roberts Stadium is a venue the city spent millions to renovate less than 20 years ago.
But what will happen once the new arena goes up?
"We're looking at all our options but what probably makes most sense is this is an area that's recreational in nature and its seems to me we ought to keep it recreational in nature," says Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.
Mayor Weinzapfel tells NEWS 25 the new arena may be close to three years away, but Roberts Stadium is already being studied by Evansville firm V.P.S. Architecture. We're told the study has been underway for a few months.
The Mayor says keeping this site for public use has his attention.
"That's a somewhat interesting prospect in terms of looking at that entire area which is recreational in nature, right next to Wesselman Woods, Swonder ice rink, Hartke pool."
Last year the idea of turning Roberts into a water park was thrown out, but Friday we talked to Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Marilee Fowler, who tells us she wants to see this property turned into a baseball and softball complex.
"We've done a great job with soccer and the new Goebel Soccer Complex we've been involved in building and bring tournaments to Evansville so we'd like to see the same thing with baseball and softball," says Fowler.
Fowler says more tournaments means more dollars being pumped into area hotels, restaurants, and shops. Fowler says she's already voiced her opinion to the Mayor.
"He's heard us for so long. Yes he knows our thoughts and interest," says Fowler.
"This is an issue that the arena advisory committee could help us take a look at. Obviously we'd want to have public meetings. We want public input on reuse of the property."
The Mayor says the study on Roberts Stadium should be complete in a couple of months.
NEWS 25 will continue to keep you updated on any public hearing on the matter