Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau Disappointed that Ball Fields Project did not Garner Support


By Don Counts

President Joe Vezzoso expressed disappointment that the Vanderburgh County Council could not be convinced that the ball field project at the Robert’s Stadium site was worth going forward with. The Bureau needs to move on and transfer their deposits of into accounts where they can earn the greatest return. A Recommendation was made to deposit the money into Trust Indiana which is a State program that allows local units of government (e.g. counties, municipalities, school corporations, townships, and other units of local government) as well as the State of Indiana to invest in a common pool of investment assets that preserves the principal of the public’s funds, remains highly liquid, and maximizes the return on the investment. A second recommendation was to keep the deposits local. Currently deposits are at Integra, Fifth Third and Old National Bank. The board decided to keep the money local and to add the Bank of Evansville to their roster, which currently has the highest rate of return. The trustee will do this, insuring that the deposits will not exceed the maximum federally insured amounts.

David Dunn reported that the Bureau was on the Vanderburgh County Council Agenda in error and he will withdraw the project from Council till they have more support and will evaluate that level of support after the first of the year. He reported that by the failure to pursue the bond issue for the ball field project during 2010, they lost $4.8 to $6.2 million in reduced interest charges over a 25 year period and that the Build America stimulus money that will expire at the end of this year. He reported that they had worked on this project for seven years and countless hours. He said that the ball fields would have brought money in to the hospitality business but was caught up in politics.

Joe Vezzoso said that the money in the budget could be used to reduce the Inn Keepers tax. If nothing is done it will cost the City $400,000 per year to maintain Roberts Stadium, he would like to see a strip mall go in there. He said he doesn’t know if he will be in the Bureau next year but doesn’t think they should go out for a project like this unless they have the support of the public and the Vanderburgh County Commissioner and Council.

Bob Whitehouse reported that the hotels have had an extremely good year. He said he has met with the Jehovah Witnesses and that they are coming to town to talk about their convention, and they have some concerns.

The first draft of a four page brochure for the Arena has been completed. Members recommended that pictures be included showing configurations for basketball, concerts, and conventions. The bureau will seek the approval of John Kish, Evansville Arena Project Manager, before going forward with publication.

The Evansville Tennis Association appeared seeking support for improvements of the tennis courts at Wesselman Park. Currently there are three courts there. They have estimated the cost of adding new courts would be $630,000 for the courts and $150,000 for lighting. They have a five year lease with the Parks Department for 7.2 acres which gives them permission to build and improve. This project would create a shortfall of 35 parking spaces which could be added elsewhere later. None of the new courts would be enclosed at this time. There are nine indoor courts in the Evansville area. Major tournaments require indoor courts. The Women’s Circuit sponsored by the Women’s Hospital has been the best tournament in the region. The Tennis Association has invested three quarter of a million dollars over the past five years. At this time they do not have the full support of the County Council but want the full support of the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Deaconess has agreed to sponsor the upcoming Tournament again.

Joe Vezzoso warned the Tennis Association that they will face the same resistance that the ECVB did with the ball fields, from the neighbors, the community, and the County Council. Currently there is a tender situation at Wesselman Park. The Bureau needs to bring tourism and they have the Inn Keepers support to put heads in beds.

After the meeting when asked by the City County Observer what balances were still outstanding from the ball field project, Bob Whitehouse said they do not share that information with him. David Dunn said there are outstanding bills for legal, design, etc., and that he doesn’t know what the balances are at present but hopes to have that at the next meeting on December 13 at 4 PM.

A City County Observer Mole has been told that the total of the balances are significant. We want to know how much is owed and to whom. Is it for architects, lay out, soil testing, landscape designs, attorney fees etc. We will continue to follow this story.


  1. So, why doesn’t Mr. David Dunn buy that property and build his field of dreams himself? If he wants to make us think it’s his near decade long goal, and that it’s such a potential profit center?

    Wait, WAIT! I think I can answer my own question.

    It’s always much easier to spend and bond out other peoples money, than it is your own.

  2. The political situation spoken of is reflective of the neighborhood position and of those who want this ball complex placed elsewhere. If Mr. Dunn wishes to gain support from the council and the community, he should reevaluate his goals and find another location which is not only suitable but which will also provide him with the backing of most of Evansville. Mr. Vezzoso’s referral to hoping a strip mall goes in on the Roberts Stadium land was very vengeful and tacky. We must also be watchful of the placement of many more tennis courts on Wesselman land. There are currently either 12 or 16 courts, I believe, in the park, not 3 as reported, and during many times of play, parking is very crowded indeed. The place the Tennis Association wishes to add several courts is the only open field in the park where touch football games, frisbee toss and such activities that need a flat, long area to be played can properly and safely take place. The Park Board needs to develop a new, innovative master plan for Wesselman Park, particularly since it is so beautiful, well- used, and is sister land to Wesselman Nature Preserve with the goal being to keep the low-key, family atmosphere. This plan should include input from the neighbors, and the general public, and must consider the budgetary considerations of the city and its tax base going forward. All this is not happening in a vaccuum as the CVB has thought for quite awhile now.

  3. Representative Government is so inconvenient to creeps like Dunn and Vezzoso.
    Caught up in politics? You darn right, the People didnt’t want it in the park, and their government got the message.

  4. Sadly we are suffering the collateral dilemmas created by the Downtown Arena Project. The true scope of this fiasco is still unfolding.

    We do not have a problem of what to do with extra money. Instead, developers attempted to BORROW it. The taxpaying, voting public said NO, on Nov 2.

    Thankfully our elected Councils have BEGUN to serve their purpose as representatives of the citizenry and advisors to the mayor.

    For the preceding period, throughout which they rubber stamped the Weinzapfel agenda, they are accountable.

    There is little to salvage over the next few decades in Vanderburgh County. Withering cost of living increases and continuing unsanitary conditions will be the rule. …

    This: In My Opinion

    This: In My Opinion

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