Will old Roberts Stadium stay or go?

By Nathan Ryder - bio | email
Posted by Melissa Greathouse - email

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - If a new arena is built what will happen to Roberts Stadium?

We're getting closer to a final decision to construct an events center in downtown Evansville. That raises questions about the fate of the 52-year-old stadium and the 57 acres it sits on.

Will it stay or will it go? City leaders say it's too early to make a decision about the fate of the aging Roberts stadium property. But if the city council votes to move forward on a new downtown arena Monday night it's a question they city will begin considering.

"It is a good location," said City Councilwoman Missy Mosby. "You're right off the expressway and there's several things you can do with it."

Mosby says that's exactly why there's so much curiosity about what exactly will happen to the old Roberts Stadium should a new downtown arena be built.

"I've actually had multiple agents, commercial agents, asking what's going to be done with that," Mosby said.

Recently the focus has been on selecting a site for the new arena. The advisory board picked D-Patrick Ford downtown.

But another important decision will come sometime later on the current stadium.

"That's a piece of property that when you're going through town you just don't want to see it vacant. You want to see something there that's going to possibly rejuvenate the city just like a new arena will," said Mosby.

Even if the council approves the new arena Monday night the future of Roberts Stadium won't be decided for quite some time.

"We're going to need it for another two and a half years so it's not going away tomorrow," said Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. "We have plenty of time to figure out what to do with it once the new arena opens.

Mayor Weinzapfel says a few years ago a major church organization was interested in purchasing the stadium. He says there are several other good possibilities that wouldn't compete with the new downtown arena.

"Everything from demolition and turning it into park land to i think it's probably got a valuable commercial service," Weinzapfel said.

City consultants even floated the possibility of turning the property into a water park.

"I think that would kind of fit with everything we've got going over there," said Mosby. "We've got the swimming pool. We've got the ice skating rink and we've got the ball fields so that would just be another attraction."

Whatever the use for the old Roberts Stadium site, Mayor Weinzapfel says the city will make sure it doesn't compete with the new downtown arena.