Friday, February 5, 2010

What to do with the Roberts Stadium lot

Now that the arena deal is signed, sealed, and on its way to being delivered, Robert Stadium will be without its main tenant and has probably seen its last days as an arena (an arena not a stadium despite its name!). I must admit, I am against tearing down an sports facility whether it be an arena, a stadium, a ballpark, etc because I believe 1. They have a lot of history 2. Their architectural design is great cultural art 3. Unless they're significantly damaged structurally, they can almost always be used in some way, shape, or form.

Roberts Stadium is no exception to these rules. Roberts Stadium is over 50 years old, it has a nice design to it, and although it is currently sinking it can be repaired given the proper tenant.

Rumor has it, the Jehovah Witness' have made a huge offer for Roberts Stadium. If true, the odds of Roberts Stadium staying intact would be great so I would support the sale.

However, the main thing I would like to see on the site is what was recommended for Roberts Stadium: A water park resort.

Granted I have never been to Big Splash Adventure Water Park & Resort in French Lick, Indiana but I still believe the concept would be a huge success for Evansville. Since the plans to add a lazy river to Burdette Park were never realized and Kentucky Kingdom decided to close today, the time to act is now.

Originally, I felt that Roberts Stadium itself would be the perfect venue for a water resort, but with the Jehovah Witness' bidding a nice offer for it, I have gone back to the drawing board and came up with a better solution(s).

The city can do 1 of 3 things:

1. Tear down Hartke Pool like they did the old Swonder Ice Rink and build a new water resort on that land.

2. Build a new water resort in the Roberts Stadium parking lot and enclose Hartke Pool inside of it.

3. Build a new water resort in the Roberts Stadium parking lot separate and completely away from Hartke Pool.

Of the three proposals that I have formulated, tearing down Hartke Pool seems to be the worst since it's already an outdoor water park that would compliment the indoor resort , tearing it down would only add to the costs, and very little parking would be gained from it.

As for the other 2 proposals, I'm fine with either one as long as an outdoor lazy river is incorporated the design. My ultimate vision for the site would be to have an indoor water resort that has an indoor/outdoor lazy river that runs through the parking lot, through wesselman woods, and into or next to a rebuilt Wabash & Erie Canal (depending on if the water was clean or canal water). For this single reason, I leave proposal #3 on the table due to the fact that it might be a good idea to build the water resort behind Roberts and closer to the canal.

With that being said, my dream proposal is to build a new water park resort next to Hartke Pool with a retractable roof like the one in French Lick. There would need to be a deal stuck with the Jehovah Witness or whoever owns Roberts to ensure that plenty of parking is left for their events and so that the water park resort can share parking with them in order to ensure that Roberts Stadium isn't just a massive parking field like it is now (its main problem now). Hartke Pool would compliment the new resort perfectly, either as an outdoor neighbor or an indoor extension.

My main point is this: If they can build it in French Lick, they can build it in Evansville!