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Kokomo approves bonds for new ballpark

New Kokomo ballpark

The Kokomo (Ind.) Common Council moved ahead with a $11-million bonding plan for a new downtown ballpark that would also provided needed flood mitigation.

The new ballpark, envisioned for 2015, would provide both a playing field for area baseball and soccer fields but also add flood mitigation in the form of berms, a raised ballpark area (it’s being built in what has been a floodplain) and other stormwater management. From the Kokomo Tribune:

Council members approved the bonds at an interest rate of 2.5 percent from Huntington Bank, meaning it will make an annual payment of about $900,000 conservatively on the bonds. It also appropriated $1 million in wastewater utility revenue as a capital contribution toward the project.

Bonding for the $9 million stadium, which will also include $2.5 million toward flood mitigation in the downtown area, means the city will take on debt to repay the bonds over the next 15 years.

The city will close on the bonds on June 3, which will be repaid through the city’s economic development income tax revenue. The city received about $1.6 million in EDIT last year, meaning there shouldn’t be any problem making the payments, so long as city officials set aside the required funds each year.

Currently the ballpark is envisioned as a high-school and community venue, but it certainly has the capacity to host summer-collegiate ball. The $9-million ballpark will have a capacity of almost 4,000: 2,350 fixed seats (both folding stadium seats and bleachers) and room for up to 1,500 spectators on the berm, with an upper level featuring two suites, two party areas and a press box. The playing surface will be an artificial turf that can also accommodate soccer.

We had a chance to chat with Senior Architect Dan McCloskey of American Structurepoint (Indianapolis) about the project. For McCloskey, the project is a homecoming: he grew up in nearby Walton and attended Ball State University. His vision for the ballpark fits squarely in what fans expect in a modern ballpark: lots of space to walk around, with a 360-degree concourse and entertainment areas down each line.

“I think this will be a more modern take on a ballpark,” he said. “Fans will always be able to see the field of play.”

Integrating that modern take into an older downtown also represents a challenge, he added: “We need to maintain a historic native feeling and combine it with a more modern theme.” That means bricks on the first level of the concourse, containing concessions and restrooms, with more modern touches on the second-level press box/suite level and canopies down the line.

Another challenge is creating a ballpark space on a field that can also accommodate soccer. It can be done, as we’ve seen in some recently opened ballparks (like the one in Normal, Ill.).

“There will be a little quirkiness in the outfield,” McCloskey said.

The fact that the city is combining a ballpark with a flood-mitigation plan certainly is a testament to how far ballpark technology and planning has advanced in the last decade. Ten years ago you would never seen a city combine the two disparate purposes in a new project (in fact, at the time it was noteworthy when flood mitigation was included in a renovation of Clinton’s Ashford University Field. As noted, the ballpark will be built above the floodplain level, with drainage going directly into a storm sewer system. The only part of the ballpark below the floodplain level: the dugouts.

RELATED STORIES: New Kokomo ballpark on tap for 2015


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