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Fort Wayne Backs Minor League Baseball Stadium

Sat June 16, 2007 - Midwest Edition
CEG



FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) The City Council approved spending $26 million from local income tax collections to support a downtown development plan that includes construction of a 250-room hotel and a new minor-league baseball stadium.

Council members voted 6-3 April 24 in support of the project, which received significant support from city business leaders.

“The reason you see so many business people coming and speaking for this project is because it’s a good deal,” said Mike Ottenweller, president of Ottenweller Co. “It’s a good business deal.”

Those who spoke against the project said they worried about how much public money would be spent on a private investment and that they were unconvinced that a new baseball stadium would attract other downtown development.

Councilman Tom Smith voted against the project, but encouraged residents to support it and said he will do everything he can to help make the development work.

The $130 million project has been touted by Mayor Graham Richard as a catalyst to bring investment to the city’s core. The project also calls for a 900-space parking garage, 60 condominiums and 30,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

City officials said $67 million of the project’s cost will come from Hardball Capital, which owns the Fort Wayne Wizards baseball team, and the hotel developers, Acquest Realty Advisors and White Lodging Services. The remaining $63 million is to come from public money, including the local income tax revenue and property taxes derived from the project.

The new 5,000-seat baseball stadium would replace the existing 6,300-seat Memorial Stadium, which was completed in 1993 near Memorial Coliseum on the city’s north side.

City officials expect the new stadium, estimated to cost $30 million, to be completed before the 2009 baseball season.