Evansville stadium board to make recommendation

The Roberts Stadium Advisory Board will be making a recommendation to the Evansville City Council and Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel this month about the future of the 52-year-old arena, the Courier-Press is reporting. 

According to a recent article by reporter Jimmy Nesbitt, the board will meet tonight and again on Dec. 16 to hear presentations about the economic impact of a new 10,000-seat stadium on the area, receive public comment and then make its recommendation. 

A consultant who looked at the impact of a new arena on Evansville found that a new facility should be part of a broader downtown revitalization plan – an idea that has gained momentum in Owensboro. 

Whatever Evansville decides to do will no doubt have an impact on Owensboro’s plans for its own downtown, which are coming together with a formal downtown master plan presented in draft form last month and expected to be adopted early next year by the Owensboro City Commission and Daviess Fiscal Court. 

That plan calls for an initial investment of $80 million by the public sector for a list of projects including a downtown convention center that could also host sporting events.

A tale of two arenas

The Courier-Press’s Jimmy Nesbitt is reporting that as the city of Evansville continues to debate the future of Roberts Stadium, the venue is still turning a profit, having just lost money in three years since 1992. 

City leaders there are waiting on studies currently being done to look at the financial viability of building and operating a new arena in Evansville. 

And while Evansville moves forward with its own plans, Owensboro officials are also in the early stages of considering how an events center – either indoor or outdoors – could be paid for and sustained in downtown Owensboro. 

In November, the Gateway Planning Group will return to Owensboro to offer a look at how local government could implement a new downtown master plan that includes a publicly-owned convention and events center that officials have said could also host concerts and some sporting events.

The downtown master plan also includes possible locations for a larger venue that could host baseball games and larger concerts, but no specific look at how such a venue would perform financially or how to pay for its construction. 

Those plans have been drawn up with an eye toward the eventual demise of the city’s largest venue – the Sportscenter on West Parrish Avenue. Continue reading

Evansville grappling with its own arena debate

While Owensboro and Daviess County look expectantly toward the closed Executive Inn Rivermont property as the possible location of a new events center, Evansville is dealing with its own issues in determining what kind of arena should replace the aging Roberts Stadium.

Reporter Jimmy Nesbitt with the Evansville Courier-Press is reporting that Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel said the city will hire a construction consultant, architect and financial adviser to see whether the city can afford to build a new arena without raising property taxes.

The financial firm – the London Witte Group – previously prepared a report in April 2007 for the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Owensboro-Daviess County Tourist Commission looking at a possible tax increment financing district in downtown Owensboro.

Staff with London Witte found that at least $20 million in public revenue could be generated over 20 years from a downtown TIF district that would include a $40 million privately owned hotel and $40 million publicly owned indoor events center.

Under tax increment financing, tax revenue generated within a specified development district can be used to pay for public improvements, including roads, parking areas or publicly owned facilities.

The London Witte report prepared for Owensboro fell by the wayside after the Owensboro city commission decided to pursue a larger signature TIF district on Kentucky 54 that failed late last year after the state rejected the district’s application.

Weinzapfel is apparently expecing the work of the three firms to be completed within the next three months, which could help end a years-long debate on the future of Roberts Stadium and need for a new arena, Nesbitt reported.