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Republicans to question Ballard's $6M sports park

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Indianapolis City-County Council Republicans will have some questions Monday night for Mayor Greg Ballard’s staff about a $6 million sports park that’s been in the works for years without their knowledge.

“I want to see more as far as projected numbers and everything,” Minority Leader Michael McQuillen said. He requested a briefing for the Republican caucus, which will meet privately before the general council meeting at 7 p.m.

McQuillen said he's not necessarily against the idea, but he and his caucus were surprised by Ballard's announcement last week that the city was building a sports complex, to be called World Sports Park, that could host international sports such as cricket. Ballard made the announcement while visiting sister city Hyderabad, India.

The multi-use sports fields, a concession stand and other amenities will be built at the current Post Road Park with money from the Rebuild Indy fund, which was created from the sale of the city’s water utility in 2010 to Citizens Energy.

Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter told IBJ that once the complex is complete in summer or fall of 2014, it will have five athletic fields and be capable of holding events attracting as many as 10,000 spectators.

The council is in no position to halt the project, but that didn’t stop Democrats and Republicans on the Public Works Committee from expressing outrage to Public Works Director Lori Miser during an April 18 meeting.

“I’m concerned that we can’t support the parks now,” Democratic Councilor Pam Hickman said. “How are we going to maintain this?”

In recent talks about possible cuts to the current city budget, Hickman said, the parks department has discussed laying off staff, eliminating port-a-potties and downgrading maintenance.

“I’m floored by this,” she said.

Republican Councilor Ginny Cain agreed. She noted that Sahm Park has trees infected by the emerald ash borer that need to be removed.

“It goes to the maintenance of what we already have,” she said.

Cain added that she’s been on the council since 2004, and Ballard’s overseas announcement was the first she’d heard of the World Sports Park.

“I’m overwhelmed,” she said.

Republican Councilor Janice McHenry said the concept hadn’t been presented to the council’s parks committee, on which she also serves.

The council has already appropriated all the ReBuild Indy money that’s needed for 2013 projects, and the World Sports Park project was approved by the city’s Public Works Board, where the council has one representative. Miser told the council members she expects to award the construction contract soon.

Ballard’s staff is talking up the potential economic impact from attracting international cricket matches and NCAA tournaments for lacrosse and rugby.

As for the ongoing maintenance, Miser didn’t offer any projections but said the city hopes to arrange a public-private partnership that would cover such expenses.

“Ultimately, it would be a revenue generator that would generate money back to the parks department,” she said.

Ballard has wanted to make Indianapolis known for cricket since his first term in office, said David Ladd, a volunteer who carries the title of Indianapolis World Sports Park Ambassador. Ladd, a former business acquaintance of Ballard’s, said the mayor first raised the idea in 2009 while the two were at an Indianapolis Colts game. Ladd agreed to help.

He shepherded construction of the first cricket field in 2011 at Post Road Park, a 40-acre park on the southeast side. He’s also in charge of seeking sponsors or other private-sector supporters, but he said, “Those efforts haven’t even begun.”

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  • Full-time council?
    For the most part, I agree with the comments here painting the Councilors as disingenuous for acting as though this is the first they heard about this issue, however, we should remember that we have a part-time council. I think we only pay them about $8-10,000/year to work in the evenings on the business of governing a City/County of ~850,000 people. Unless they are retired or independently wealthy, they all work full-time jobs that presumably take priority over their council work. While I'd be apprehensive about making these same people full-time councilors with full-time salaries, because they might keep doing the same minimal amount of work for more pay, I think it's time that we consider reducing the size of the Council and making if a full-time job. 29 people spending 5-15 hours a week doing the same thing is not as effective as 7, or 9, or 13 people working 40 or more hours a week, especially when it comes to a responsibility like reviewing a multi-billion dollar budget. If we don't need a full-time council, then why not make the mayor's job a part-time position, with commensurate pay also?
  • While Rome Burned
    So...when did the Public Works Committee approve this? Is it within their purview? Who is the councilor who sat on the committee on that date? Were they present at the meeting? Are they still on the council? Do they perhaps work for the Mayor's office at this time? Who are the companies that have bid so far - as the DPW expects to award a contract soon? And what is the public-private relationship that is being considered? Are we contemplating another long term lease? (sale of public asset in disguise?) What law firm will the city be using? Where are the tie-ins on this deal? Keep up the good work reporting IBJ, but this article leaves a lot of questions about the process that has been utilized to try to ram this boondoggle down everybody's throat.
  • This is Old News
    This project has been in the news for years. In fact, Mayor Ballard has publicized it repeatedly. The council is joking when they say they've never heard of it. http://www.indy.gov/eGov/Mayor/initiatives/Pages/Indianapolis-World-Sports-Park.aspx http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qC6g49_a-tA http://www.wthr.com/story/19539950/indianapolis-aims-to-be-world-sports-hub
  • Terrible government
    I want to be outraged, but really, as long as we keep electing these people, they'll keep doing stupid things like this. The citizens of Indianapolis need to demand good government and be willing to take the actions necessary to make it a reality. Until then, more of the same.
  • No One Is Buying the "Surprise"
    I guess the Council members think people are stupid enough to fall for this phony grandstanding. The Council appropriated the money for the 2013 Rebuild Indy projects and the Board of Public Works, on which the Council has a representative, specifically approved the project. After all this, they have the gall to act "surprised" about the project?! What a joke. This nothing more than the usual political theatrics the City-County Council goes through in an attempt to bolster the illusion that it is an independent body of government.
  • $$$
    Is there any transperancy in our local government? How is it they can spend taxpayer dollars and not be accountable? Take care of the parks, roads etc. we already have. Thos has to be one of the dumbist ideas yet, and announcing it in India!!
  • Go Along Get Along
    Look for the republicans to "go along to get along" with the project. Most of them feel that their own re-election is much more important than protecting the shrinking tax dollars of the taxpayers in Marion County.
  • study committee
    better let them study it for a while...not sure of all the facts. throw it under the rug like they have with transit for the past 30 yrs and throw indy back another 10.
  • Republicans Find Courage
    Well it's about time. Ballard has been taxing and spending like the most liberal Democrat for 5 years and Republicans did nothing but rubberstamp what he was doing. What's the sudden courage Republican councilors have now acquired? Well we know the spineless sell out Mike McQuillen will fold. There is only one Republican fiscal conservative on the Council and that is Christine Scales.
  • Infrastructure first
    The streets are crumbling, the parks we already own aren't being maintained, we don't have enough police on the streets...so let's build a cricket stadium?! Ridiculous.
  • what a joke
    McQuillen is maybe the worst minority leader ever. What universe does he live in.Does he realy think that Ballard wil tellhim anything. Hell, Ballard didnt even give them the city budget till 15 min prior to it being released. Ballard has no intention of telling anyone other than the construction companies about this project.You can rest assured that the contracts have been promised and its a done deal..case in point Broad Ripple parking garage. McQuillen is way out of his leave and in way over his head. Hell his own caucus cant stand him. Anyone want to bet that Keystone gets the contract?
  • Only The Replucans? LOL
    Hey, they're only a week late to the party. At least they showed up! Six million for a cricket stadium and $175,000 for our world-class symphony. Enough said. Mayor Blowhard needs to take a serious look in the mirror and realize it doesn't need to wear a jock to contribute to our city and our state. Jock sniffing, self-aggrandizing preener....
  • Cricket!
    You'll like this
  • Who is surprised by this?
    Repeated junkets to India, China and wherever under the guise of 'jobs', who can really be surprised by this? Cricket? Really?It also appears he saw a train somewhere, hence the support for a multi $Billion 'mass transit' boondoggle, paid for by taxpayers. I just hope he never winds up in Pamplona during the 'running of the bulls'...
  • Cricket!
    You'll like this
  • F***ing Cricket!
    You'll like this.

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