Winnecke’s Plan for Roberts to Cost $6M – $8 Million


Lloyd Winnecke

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke has announced a plan to demolish Roberts Stadium and remove the parking lot adding roughly 37 acres of green space for public recreation.

The Mayor has proposed to have features like a dog walk, outdoor fitness areas, a skateboard and bike park. The green space would also have a lake, picnic area, and foot trails.

Mayor Winnecke who claims to have done much of the research himself on trips to other locales expects the park to be a multiphase project and did not disclose the source of the funds to undertake the work.

In a previous attempt to demolish Roberts Stadium and install 8 baseball fields at a cost of $18 Million, the Weinzapfel Administration was counting on financial support from the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau that collects a hotel tax for projects that promote tourism.


  1. I already got a place to walk my dog, don’t believe I want to spend 8 million for another one. anyone care to bet on how many times a year the parks department will be able to mow this garden of eden and how many needles we will find when they do?

    • They can hire the water meter readers to pick up dog s###. That way the city won’t have to lay them off when they spend $80 Million on new meters that read themselves.

      Seriously, can a city that can’t pick up rubbers and needles be trusted to pick up piles of s###?

      • Yeah right? So they are planning on laying off Meter Readers, but what they don’t show us is that they will need to hire computer and network technicians to manage the new system….

  2. I’d rather have the ball fields given only those 2 choices. At least the ball fields would have generated revenue and drawn overnight visitors to the city. This green space (shouldn’t we call it a park?) will draw 0 overnight visitors to our hotels, 0 out of town diners to our restaurants. It is going to cost 6-8 million to construct, but how much will it cost to maintain? I bet it will be more than maintaining Roberts with the pumps running 24/7 and it will still be poorly maintained just like the rest of the city’s parks.

    • I agree with you 100 percent but you are giving the city officals too much credit, they can’t think that far in advance.

  3. I guess that’s one way to make sure it doesn’t compete with the Jon downtown …. Winnecke has to bosses Boss wife and the ex mayor

        • Then the cost is 7 cents. We did look into that and learned that the land was a gift from Wesselman who put a condition on it that it must be used for public good. That may eliminate the sell to a private company option. Maybe the cheapest way to get rid of Roberts is to just give it back to the Wesselman heirs.

          • Does it serve the “public good” to drain public funds on an recreational area adjacent to an eyesore expressway?

            Selling it to the private market and getting the albatross off our backs IS “public good”. If giving back to the Wesselman heirs would cost less than $8M, then I’m all for THAT option.

          • Editor,
            It was not a gift from the Wesselman family. Senator Weselman arranged for the state of Indiana who owned the property which included all the Wesselman Park and Preserve land as well as the Roberts stadium, and the Hartke pool and Swonder locations to donate that land to the city of Evansville. It was to be used for park and recreational purposes.

          • Even if 292 is correct, such a transfer of land from State to City hands should not have come with open-ended conditions upon its use in perpetuity.

            If the land cannot be sold, as this person is claiming, then it should simply be given back to the State of Indiana, if that’s even where it originated. Personally, I’d like to see some actual documents backing up any of these assertions that the land cannot be sold.

            Upon what are the lawyers to whom the CCO spoke basing this assertion?

      • Absolutely. It should have been sold at auction to the highest bidder.

        That approach would not only have prevented our fearless leaders from spending another $8M plus, but would have actually netted the City funds to be put toward one of it’s many other liabilities. Not to mention, the buyer might have been able to create jobs out of it.

        I guess we’ll never know what the free market could have done with the place. Shame.

        • Then give it to Jordan Baer for a dollar, and we can watch him find private investors to convert it into one of his pipe dream uses.

  4. I have a much better idea….. How about we tear down Roberts Stadium….and build an exact replica of Roberts Stadium? Anyone?

    Hell, I just want to go on a spending spree.

    • LOL!!! That is probably what will happen in time when they ‘find out’ they made a mistake and need the extra weekend date use for shows and events we’re already missing to be booked here. Who knows how many Mayors that will be, but, it can happen at a HUGE expense, or some smaller town around us will build such venue. Folks have tried to help Roberts Stadium, it is inaccurate information to state otherwise. Again, look on the internet for ‘Roberts Stadium’ and it has been pretty much erased……we found this out in 2011. How will that help History folks look up info on Roberts Stadium in the future.

  5. Since the public facility is now no longer used. It should be put up for auction as public surplus property. This is what is supposed to happen to all public properties that have outlived there purpose.
    Quite frankly, UE should bid on this property. The history the school has with the building and its close proximity would make it a huge assest to the private university. Not only could they hold there sporting events there, but additional classes could be held in some of the meeting rooms. It could even share/lease the space to USI or Ivy Tech also. High School Graduations could also still be held there. The city would not have to further maintain the property nor come up with $8,000,000.00 to tear it down and convert it.
    But the problem for the Mayor with this plan is that it would take away revenue from the new arena and suddenly that would in no way have any chance to be profitable.

    • The answer is simple. Sell Roberts to Jordan Baer for a dollar on a contract where he has a time certain within which he must secure financing and a developer to execute one of his proposed uses. If he fails to meet the contract terms and deadlines, then he must pay for the demolition of Roberts. In other words, Jordan, plop or get off the pot (put up or shut up).

      • I assume you were trying to be smart with your post but outside of having to pay for demolition that idea on its face would seem to be fair.

        The only initial fixes that absolutely have to be made are raising the floor, fixing the new part of the roof, and demolishing the precast sections above street level. Those were all totaled up to be around $585,000.

        There’s a couple of organizations in Texas looking to buy seats of any kind and are supposedly willing to pay $75-$100 a seat. Removing the roughly 5,000 seats above street level with the roughly 2,000 below the water table level would knock off the vast majority of that bill. I would then immediately auction off naming rights to the gates which I’m still unsure of why the mayor didn’t investigate.

        Anything after would have to fall under a small business loan.

        I would make those fixes immediately and then fill the facility up with the 2 tenants who have reached out to me wanting to use the facility as well as another who wants to schedule 180 expos events. I would talk with those representing the BMX idea about renting the facility during the summer as well as the parking lot.

        Once the venue was stabilized, I could then request bids from SMG and Venuworks to manage it. They would fill it in with whatever overflow they got from the Ford Center (Home Show, GLVC Tournament, etc all need to be moved for the Icemen to get the premier weekend dates) plus book the rest of the dates with mid-sized concerts and events making the facility full at least 2/3rds of the year.

        With the expense sheet Rector released to the public, it was only costing the city roughly $646 a day to run Roberts. With the water pumps gone, that number would fall significantly. You’re telling me we can’t find events who can afford that price plus their own expenses, plus a small mark up but that these events could go in the Ford Center where it’s $5,000 to $10,000 a day to book an event?

        Now let me ask you this, are you willing to take on financing the green space project without city assistance? Are you willing to make it profitable?

        • Listen Jordan, I am not the one advocating a profitable use and running around promoting myself as the man with the ultimate plan. That’s your gig, dude.

          So once again all I have to say is the answer is simple. Step up and put up, or shut up. Lay it out there on the line. Get your backers to shell out the dough rey me, boy.

          • I fully understand that you are not advocating for anything solvent, much less profitable.

            But what I’m asking you to do is the same thing you’re asking me- to put your own money behind your own project. Judging by the way you’re dodging the question, I don’t expect you to find any investor willing to throw down any money on a 2nd dog park any time soon. Nor do I expect you to come up with any reasons as to why the struggling Parks Department needs any more parks than what they currently have.

            Therefore, it would seem to me to be a bit of a double standard for you to demand Roberts Stadium make financial sense when yours is gauranteed not to.

          • Jordan, the answer is painfully clear. No one cares much about your ideas judging from the total lack of comments after each story on your saveroberts blog. Answer: Move Forward.

          • Who is shelling out the $8 Million that the Mayor wants to spend and how much will the annual carrying charges be? Why can’t the “official” plan have the same fiscal constraints as the other plans?

          • @ Answerman

            The blog just received its 30,000th visitor. The comments section on there is empty because only blogger accounts can post on it.

            Once again, you’re dodging the questions. That speaks for itself.

          • Answerman,

            I’d rather bet my money on Jordan’s plan than bet $5 million of my money on EarthCare or $50-80 million of my own money on the Johnson Controls deal, wouldn’t you?

          • My answer: Pony Up, Big Pappa!

            Hey Jordan, Big Pappa may be you financial plan together quick. My information is that Roberts will be open at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning for city and county departments to start stripping out and carting off whatever they can use elsewhere.

          • It’s pretty simple Bill Jeffers, either hold yourself accountable to your own demands or just shut up and quit creating 1,000 different names on here.

    • East Side Dem,

      If more Democrats thought like you, I might actually consider being one. I guess common sense knows no political party. I just thought until now that meant no party had any.

    • not only would losing UofE really hurt the John, wait til the Icemen have a bad season and people start staying away in droves. I really like hockey, but I’m certain there will come a time when the Icemen are like the Otters and noone will attend without free tickets

      • The Icemen have nothing in common with the Otters, except where they both began. Both began in the bottom of the minor league structure chart, one (Icemen) has continually invested and imporved his product by both talent and league association. Currently, they are now in the ECHL, which is the top AA league in the country. The Otters are still mired in the garbage league they began in with zero aspirations to improve either the talent or league. It’s a joke we have the longest tenure in the history of the Frontier league, with virtually nothing to show for it.

        I am a baseball fanatic and I am one of the many who stays away in droves. I will not be back until there is a class baseball team back in town.

  6. Next time there is any decision that needs to be made by the city we better be sure to run it by Brad first. Or better yet, all of these bloggers. They seem to have all the right answers.

    • Funny thing about that is, the major decisions for the last several years could have been run past a committee of chimpanzees – you know, the same ones that typed out Shakespeare – and they could have accidentally done a better job on the whole.

      …or just give a list of multiple choice to a group of D students. I bet you they, too, would accidentally do the right thing more often than our elected leaders by simply choosing “C….C….C…C…”

    • Bloggers were right on Earthcare and the $18 Million ballfields which is more than can be said for Winnecke and Weinzapfel.

    • A consortium of opinions from folks of all walks of life will always yield better options and ideas than any group of specialized trained professionals on most any subject IMHO, trained professionals are just that trained and have a handicap of limited scope and vision due to the narrow field of expertise….and yes there are exceptions, but in matters of public interest related to taxpayers and how their monies are spent I think the folks forking over the money have a vested interest and more informed opinions of where and how that money should be spent once they are given the options of what and how much.

      But we live in a country where politicians consider themselves smarter then the people they represent, they have zero accountability for screw-ups like Earthcare, and basically unlimited resources in the form of tax dollars that are collected, they provide very little ROI for the monies spent but know in a few months another chunk will be collected and be ripe for spending, wasting a few hundred thousand of tax money here and there is considered ok because they are trying to do the right thing.

      Roberts is going to be a classic example of short sightedness and lack of vision, it may take years to sink in but to look at a paid for facility that has potential and value to the community as a liability instead of a asset makes most people scratch their heads wondering just what the city is thinking.

      As the CCO is fond of pointing out this is just more Ready, Fire, Aim thinking and it will come around one day to bite someone in the rear when they have a moment of clarity and realize that Roberts and The Ford Center could have co-existed just as Roberts and the Coliseum has for many many years….but hey! they are just trying to do what they think is right for us and they are trying which is all that is really required isn’t it?


  7. The demolition of Roberts Stadium was decided when the public voted for Winnecke over Davis just like sewers before stadiums. The public is getting exactly what they voted for. Why is this such a mystery to everyone. Next time study before you vote and vote for the person who will do what you want when they are elected not what they want.

    • Davis lost support due to his union blinders. He has great ideas, but then he pitches common sense to the side when it comes to union talk.


      • Davis lost support in the critical 5th Ward when he advocated the demolition of Lloyd Pool. This mistake could’ve been overcome if he’d had the know-how to win the 1st Ward. Spilt milk under the Franklin Street bridge in his case. Winnecke just paved 1st Avenue approaching Lloyd Pool, a nail in the next Democrat mayoral candidate’s coffin if Winnecke runs again.

      • Winnecke received more union support than Davis did. Just get a copy of their finance reports.Our local unions are just like the Main Stream Democrats, Tuley, John, Robinson, Mosby, Watts, Williams, Goebel and Weaver just to name a few they go with the candidate that will more likely grease their palms.

        • You must’ve missed Davis’s speech at the Central Labor Council’s candidates night. He paid due homage, bragged extensively on all his union connections, took what donations they gave him, would’ve taken all the more he could’ve gotten, and done their bid and call.

    • The demolition of Roberts Stadium was sealed when one man, Jonathan Weinzapfel, decided to build his arena in the Downtown TIF District in order to take advantage of a loophole in the TIF statute, no doubt put there by state legislators who were pressured by the state chamber of commerce, which exempted projects within the TIF from public referendums.

      Weinzapfel said he was going to spend $126.Million of your money, and there was not a damn thing you could do to stop him.

      After this abomination, the state closed the loophole, and now publicly funded projects over a certain dollar amount require a referendum.

      That is why Jonathan Weinzapfel should never again be trusted to hold public office. He believes that all of you people who pay the bills for his schemes are just so many chickens to be plucked.


  8. Please explain how ANYONE could put a price tag on a project without a goal and without plans.

    • That’s what I thought too. In addition, as Jordan Baer pointed out, U of E is a private school. Why should the city give bricks from Roberts (paid for with public money) to them? Why would they want those old brick anyway, to sell them off as momentos? If so, the city should do that themselves.

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