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Lingering anger said to hurt Gary development

July 15, 2008

Marketing the Gary SouthShore RailCats minor league baseball team is a struggle because area residents are still mad that the price of the team's home, U.S. Steel Yard stadium, climbed far beyond original projections.

That's what the team's new owner, Waukegan, Ill., attorney Patrick Salvi, was told during a speech yesterday to the Gary chamber of commerce, the Post-Tribune of Merrillville reported.

The publicly financed project ended up costing $45 million, about double estimates, when it opened five years ago. Local officials hoped the stadium would spark downtown redevelopment.

Instead, development has come slowly, and city coffers are draining because the stadium hasn't made money. Attendance is climbing, but not enough people are going to the games to spur development around the stadium.

When Salvi asked the audience why attendance and development haven't taken off, he was told residents still harbor resentment over the bloated original cost.

"I say 'get over it,'" Salvi responded.

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