What will happen with Roberts Stadium?

By Brandon Bartlett - bio | email | Twitter
Posted by Sarah Harlan - email

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Now that a site has been chosen for the new arena, what is going to be done with the current Roberts Stadium facility?

There have been several ideas tossed around.

The Roberts Stadium Advisory Board listed five categories of opportunity for the current stadium.

They include re-using the building for a church or outlet mall, building a water park, constructing new development -- such as housing, retail stores, or businesses --  building a swimming complex, or leave it as is.

The Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau wants to build a sports complex at that location, that it hopes will attract out of state tournaments.

"We think there's an urgency in getting this new complex built," Marilee Fowler, Executive Director of the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau said.

Fowler said she has had talks with Mayor Weinzapfel about building a sports facility with a primary focus on baseball and softball.

Construction would start off by updating the existing baseball diamonds at Wesselman Woods.

"What the mayor has said to us, 'Let's look at the ball fields that are already there and then expanding the other part of this complex into parts of the Roberts Stadium area,'" Fowler said.

Fowler said the project would cost between $12 to $14 million, but would be funded by the city's hotel tax.

She said if the project is OK'd, phase one could start immediately at the Wesselman Woods site.

The second phase of adding more baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and basketball courts would start after the current facility closes. That date has not been determined.

Another group anxious about a new arena is SMG, the group that books concerts and shows.

14 News found out several big name acts have looked at coming to Evansville, but passed on Roberts Stadium.

Rascal Flatts, Nickelback, and Metallica tours have expressed interest, even Celine Dion.

"We had a call last summer about a potential Celine Dion date, but when we sat down and went through everything that was in the building, as far as what they were looking for production wise, it wasn't going to work," SMG General Manager Todd Denk said.

SMG officials said they will continue to book acts at Roberts until they are given an end date.

So, will big name acts perform at the new arena?

Several show promoters have already been contacted, letting them know there will soon be a new, bigger stage in town.

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