Time to say adios to Bush Stadium

July 17, 2008
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bushstadiumYankee Stadium, the House that Ruth Built, the home of 26 World Series Champions, a pillar of the Big Apple since 1923, will be demolished next spring.

Yet Indianapolis refuses to put Bush Stadium out of its misery. The Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana has placed the stadium on its 10 Most Endangered list for 2008. To quote the famous cartoon character and baseball hurler, Charlie Brown, “Good grief!”

Now a women’s semi-pro soccer team based in Lafayette wants to call it home. Is it April 1? Are they kidding? It would cost an easy $1 million to get Bush Stadium anywhere near ready to be a public venue again. Is women’s soccer in central Indiana that big a business?

A dirt track fronted by Indianapolis Motor Speedway boss Tony George couldn’t make it there. A Black Expo event there was a bust. City officials even once suggested it could be used for youth football. My sides still hurt from all the laughter over that one.

One city official recently called the former home of the Indianapolis Indians “solid.”
Solid? Have you seen the 77-year-old stadium lately. It has plant life growing out of the walls—and I’m not talking about the Ivy—and between the rows of bleacher seats.

Well, you know what I think. It’s time for Bush Stadium to come down. I have as many fond memories as anyone there, but it’s a depressing site along 16th Street and couldn’t be helping development on the city’s near west side.

So tell me what you think we should do with this “historical landmark.”
  • incorporate the limestone entrance into a new bio science building and tear down the rest
  • I second saving the facade -- the rest is forgettable and beyond reasonable restoration.

    If I had several spare millions, I'd love to buy it, strip it down, put in an MLS stadium with an MLS team, and turn the area, including the field across the street, into a working, breathing, central Indiana shrine to all things soccer, amateur and pro.

    Alas, that's wishful thinking. IUPUI or life sciences seem to be the most realistic futures.

    Consider, like writer suggested, demolition. Much higher profile ballyards are coming down. Yankee Stadium -- soon, Detroit's old Tiger stadium -- right NOW, Busch -- already happened. Bush in Indy would be but a blip on the radar.
  • Good idea to save the facade and blend it into the life sciences focus in the area. Soccer - we don't need no stinkin' soccer stadium.
  • MLS and Amateur Soccer belongs in our new $1 billion stadium during the Colts off season.

    The Colts will only be using it for about 5 home games a year.
  • there will be a lot of Conventions at LOS

    why can't we upgrade Kuntz stadium across the street for a MLS team?
  • The Luke is way too big for an MLS team. Why do you think all the teams have purpose built 30,000-40,000 seat stadiums? Ever watch DC United play in their giant stadium - thing is 20% full. LA, Chicago, etc. all use (or are building - NY, DC) smaller stadiums when large venues are available.

    As much as it makes sense to utilize it, it's not practical for MLS or other smaller sports.
  • Jim, 5 home games a year for the Colts? Did the NFL shorten the regular season?
  • Bush Stadium would be the perfect place to build a sports-lovers paradise. A place to live and a place to play.

    Imagine several stories of condos with balconies overlooking the field from behind the outfield wall. How cool would it be to wake up in the morning and have a cup of coffee looking out over a beautifully manicured baseball diamond while the sun rises over first base?

    One could potentially convert parts of the original building into racquet ball courts, basketball courts, exercise facilities, apparel shops, etc., The parking lot could be built out and used for indoor tennis courts, an indoor running track, an olympic pool, etc. Parking would be underground.

    White River is right there, some sort of dock or fishing facility could be built (if the river were cleaned up). There's potential for a micro golf course along the river. The soccer fields across the street could be integrated into the design, perhaps via skywalk. Facilities for every major sport could be incorporated into a giant sports lover's dream home and facility. An organization like NIFS could manage it.

    It would take a heck of a lot of money, and a developer with great vision, but would extremely profitable and beautiful if done right.
  • Ablerock,

    You are a very insightful individual with great ideas, a positive promoter, but you're smokin' crack on the old Bush Stadium ideas! Just what forward thinker in our town Indy would be willing to step forward with the bucks and commitment to pull off this grand plan?
  • I agree with building a life science structure and incorporating the facade. In addition, the building could sit on the exact footprint of the stadium with the field providing an outdoor, beautifully landscaped area that contains the shapes and landmarks of the old baseball field. Perhaps stones, fountains, or small markers for where bases and pitcher's mound used to sit.

    I love the thought of a recreational area for the park and surrounding structures, but the golfing boom is holding steady and may even decrease over the next 20 years with baby boomers aging so the prospect of a 4th golf course within 2 sq. miles may be a stretch.
  • While it may seeem demolition is the answer, I think the question is: What do we do with it once it is gone. You mention it would easily need $1mil., let's make sure we know what it might cost to accomadate an alternate use. The dome is coming down for convention space - that makes sense. MSA came down for an unkown use, today it is an unattractive parking lot. Until you know the cost to bring it back to a usuable venue or you have an idea of what the site could be used for - I wouldn't waste anymore time thinking about it.
  • berwickguy,

    LOL! I know, it's a pie-the-sky idea, but I like to think big. I just thought I'd throw the idea out there in case there was a baseball lover with $500 million lying around that happened to be reading the IBJ!


    You're right. Unless it's causing environmental damage, why even worry about tearing it down until there is a need. We've lost a few great buildings downtown to projects that never materialized.
  • For at least a generation, the knee-jerk reaction in Indy has been
  • How about renaming this landmark George W. Bush Stadium. Then we can fill it with all the illegal immigrants that have been coming into our country. W. is not in touch with the Republican party on stopping this problem. At least the food would be better than the old days.
  • Tear it down!!!! It's old and run down. That's not the image you want for this area. Leaving in place leaves the idea that the area is neglected, an afterthought that city officials don't care about, and that will keep developers flying right on by. The solution certainly has nothing to do with sentimentality.
  • save the stadium
    Indy is known as the amateur sports capital of the world. why not put money into it to make it usable again. its a fantastic piece of history. it could be shared by different clubs to make it worth the face lift. we have a national championship winning rugby team and hurling team here in indianapolis with no permanent fields that would love to share it with a women's soccer team.
  • Signing my lease
    I loved the idea of it becoming high end apartments with a courtyard being the infield. I'd sign a lease tomorrow. What a great way to preserve the park and allow the people of indy to continue enjoying it.

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  1. I am so impressed that the smoking ban FAILED in Kokomo! I might just move to your Awesome city!

  2. way to much breweries being built in indianapolis. its going to be saturated market, if not already. when is enough, enough??

  3. This house is a reminder of Hamilton County history. Its position near the interstate is significant to remember what Hamilton County was before the SUPERBROKERs, Navients, commercial parks, sprawling vinyl villages, and acres of concrete retail showed up. What's truly Wasteful is not reusing a structure that could still be useful. History isn't confined to parks and books.

  4. To compare Connor Prairie or the Zoo to a random old house is a big ridiculous. If it were any where near the level of significance there wouldn't be a major funding gap. Put a big billboard on I-69 funded by the tourism board for people to come visit this old house, and I doubt there would be any takers, since other than age there is no significance whatsoever. Clearly the tax payers of Fishers don't have a significant interest in this project, so PLEASE DON'T USE OUR VALUABLE MONEY. Government money is finite and needs to be utilized for the most efficient and productive purposes. This is far from that.

  5. I only tried it 2x and didn't think much of it both times. With the new apts plus a couple other of new developments on Guilford, I am surprised it didn't get more business. Plus you have a couple of subdivisions across the street from it. I hope Upland can keep it going. Good beer and food plus a neat environment and outdoor seating.