eDebate: Davis vs. Winnecke (repost)


2/7/2011 eDebate
Evansville Mayoral Election

Rick Davis (D)

Lloyd Winnecke (R)

Question #2: What is the best idea you have had or heard regarding future options for Robert’s Stadium and/or it’s lot?

     I have a poll on my website, http://www.PickRickDavis.com, and I have asked people who have visited my site what they would like to see happen to Roberts Stadium. I offered five options in the poll: 1, Make it a natatorium (an indoor swimming pool). 2, Make it an indoor tennis court. 3. Turn the area into a green space. 4, Tear down Roberts Stadium and make it a green space. And 5, Other (where I give people an opportunity to offer their own suggestions). The two leading contenders, according to the people who have completed the survey, are: Turn it into a natatorium; and turn it into a green space. I say: Let’s do both! A natatorium, which could serve as a major tourism draw, would require parking spaces, but nowhere near the amount of parking spaces that Roberts Stadium’s 12,500 seating capacity requires for sold out venues. We could put some green space in between the parking lot of Swonder Ice Rink and Roberts Stadium — a parklike setting — while also keeping Roberts Stadium, an iconic building that we spent $17 million renovating in 1990. I think spending $2 million to tear the building down is a waste of our $17 million investment in 1990. We need to be good stewards of not only the tax revenues we are generating today, but also the tax revenues we have earned in the past, and that means looking for the best value possible for Roberts Stadium and to the public which has paid dearly for the facility.

     Roberts Stadium is PAID OFF. I have said more than once that if your house is paid off and you have a leaky basement, you don’t tear down your home and build a new one. You fix the problem. Or, in this case, you Reinvent Roberts! We could use that $2 million earmarked for tearing Roberts Stadium, plus use other necessary dollars needed to “Reinvent Roberts” into a natatorium and green space, and keep the structure as a jewel for not only Evansville, but the entire Tri-State area. We could also try to partner with the EVSC and possibly a private company to build the natatorium, which could be used by senior citizens in the morning, parents who can take their pre-school kids to swimming lessons during the day, and to high school teams to practice and hold swim meets in the afternoon and evenings. It’s a win-win for the entire Evansville area.

     We have hundreds of baseball and softball fields from Evansville to St. Louis, Nashville, Indianapolis and Louisville. How many natatoriums do we have capable of holding swim meets for high school teams from Southern Indiana, Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois? Very few, if any, the size of Roberts Stadium. The natatorium could be a tourism draw for swim teams from at least 2 hours away. And we could even possibly use the innkeepers tax revenue that was originally proposed for the softball fields for the natatorium, because the indoor swimming pool could do what the softball/baseball fields were intended to do: Put “heads in beds.” But unlike a softball/baseball field, a natatorium could be used year-round, while the softball/baseball complex could only be used about 6 months of the year. The most important thing we can do regarding Roberts Stadium is to have a community-wide discussion on what to do with this building. We all cannot possibly agree 100% on what to do with Roberts Stadium, but let’s get the community involved in this discussion. I have gone door-to-door in the neighborhoods around Roberts Stadium and I did not have a single resident in the area say they wanted to see Roberts Stadium torn down. You can rest assure that under my administration, no matter what is done, this decision will be made without a secret, closed-door meeting by public officials or anyone else.

     I’ve heard many interesting ideas, although I have not heard from any qualified professionals as to: a) whether or not the building could be modified to accommodate those proposed ideas, b) what those modifications would cost or c) whether or not the city could make the necessary building modifications in an economically responsible manner. To sit unused in its current state, Robert’s Stadium would cost approximately $300,000 per year. Part of this cost is due to the manner in which it was originally engineered. The floor of the stadium sits below the water table, requiring expensive pumps to run 24/7 to remove the excess water. Letting Robert’s Stadium continue in its current state is simply not an option – it will either need to be renovated for a new use, or will need to be demolished so that the land can be used for another purpose.

     I am receptive to ideas for renovating Robert’s Stadium, but it must make economic and financial sense to do so. I have two specific recommendations: first, the current mayor should appoint a committee to study this issue. Ideally this committee would be comprised of citizens who have ideas for possible re-use of the Stadium as well as engineers who can offer expertise on building modification and costs. This committee should be appointed in the first quarter of this year with the directive to have a complete recommendation for the new mayor to review 90 days after assuming office in 2012. The other recommendation is for the current administration to budget for the razing of Roberts Stadium in 2012. If Roberts is not razed, that budgeted amount could then be spent on needed modifications. Whatever the facility and/or land is used for, it needs to compliment Wesselman Park as a nature and recreation area. Above all else, we must ensure that the public has plenty of input. People deserve a say in the area’s future.


  1. Some people are easily impressed with a few big words strung together in such a way that they mean nothing.

  2. There was a website error that caused us to lose the comments on this post from yesterday and this morning. I am trying to retrieve them.

  3. I would like to apologize for all who were involved in the discussion yesterday. The ~17 comments from the last 24 hours are gone, and irretrievable. I will be taking measures to assure that this loss of data does not happen again.

    • Instructed and baptized 22 Chinese people at Easter time. Help them with first Confessions in the past few wezBk.saptieed another 10 people at Pentecost. Still giving instructions to a number of non-Catholic Chinese. Will start my new assignment in July, and will start celebrating Chinese Mass in Coquitlam on July 17.Have been praying for you, Fr. Z, since I read your request for prayers. May God bless you!

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