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South Bend poised to spend almost $10M on The Cove

South Bend Silver HawksThe South Bend Redevelopment Commission today approved spending almost $10 million on renovations to Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium (The Cove), the home of the South Bend Silver Hawks (Low Class A; Midwest League).

Under the plan, the following renovations would be made by July 4, 2011:

  • A new centerfield entrance, ticket office and concessions area.
  • An expanded concourse with 360-degree seating.
  • Basic facility upgrades to the scoreboard, sound system, lights, mechanical systems, restrooms and food-service areas.
  • Major overhaul of the field drainage system with a new artificial turf field.
  • Upgraded fan amenities including a picnic area, Kids Zone and splash pad, new concourse-level suites, a left field home run area and a refurbished Upper Deck area.
  • Renovated dugouts and locker rooms for player safety and a new training facility.
  • A new team store in the renovated B’Nai Yisrael (Sons of Israel) Synagogue.

The South Bend Redevelopment Commission voted 4-0 today (Nov. 2) to pursue a $9.6-million upgrade to the downtown ballpark primarily with a $4.9-million federal Recovery Zone Economic Development bond. These funds are made available at low interests rates through the federal stimulus program. The Redevelopment Commission approved a preliminary bond resolution, authorizing issuance of the bond. The South Bend Common Council on Nov. 8 will review the proposal, which requires approval before the Recovery Zone option expires at year’s end. Final Redevelopment Commission action would take place Nov. 19 with a public hearing and final approval at the Nov. 22 Council meeting.

“As Coveleski Stadium approaches its 25th anniversary, we need to reinvest in this landmark facility to remain in compliance with league standards and to care for a premiere City facility,” said Mayor Stephen J. Luecke. “But these renovations also will enable broader, extended use of the ballpark, expanding its economic impact and creating potential development sites for housing, commercial and retail uses.”

The next renovations will be the latest in a series of changes to the ballpark. In 2010 South Bend has renovated restrooms, made drainage improvements, installed new outfield wall padding and added a new backstop net. In the 16-team Midwest League, Coveleski is the fifth-oldest ballpark. The Cove’s proposed $9.6 million renovation is less than recent Midwest League renovations of $10.5 million in Kane County, Ill., and $12.5 million in Davenport, Iowa. It also comes close to the original construction cost of the ballpark in 1987: $11 million.

“We believe this plan represents a fiscally prudent reinvestment to allow Coveleski Stadium to compete with new stadiums in other Midwest League cities and serve us well for years to come,” Luecke said. “This investment also will spur action by private development partners interested in sites near the stadium for commercial/retail ventures or new infill housing.”

About $5 million in proceeds from the Recovery Zone bond would be supplemented by nearly $2 million in Tax Increment Financing revenue and bond proceeds from the downtown TIF district. Another $3 million in other local tax sources would provide the balance of revenue needed for the capital improvements.

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