Groundbreaking for a new summer-collegiate ballpark in downtown Utica (Macomb County, Michigan) is set for later this month, as the cost and scale of the project have gone up.
General Sports and Entertainment, owned by former Fort Wayne Wizards (Low Class A; Midwest League) owner Andy Appleby, is working with Macomb County officials on the project. The cost of the project has gone up from $8-$10 million to $12 million, mostly due to the increased estimated costs of cleaning up the brownfield site. That cleanup has been a huge challenge for the county: the ballpark site is a capped landfill, and while increased costs reflect the challenges of developing the site, there’s the chance surprises could be found once abatement and construction begins.
Still, county officials are confident enough in funding that they’ve scheduled a groundbreaking for June 23 at 11 a.m., at the corner of Auburn Road and Moscone Drive in downtown Utica. From C&G News:
[Utica Mayor Jacqueline] Noonan said a lack of funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, unclear additional funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and exorbitant costs to mitigate the site — a capped landfill — have hindered the stadium’s progress.
She said she believes Andy Appleby, owner of General Sports and Entertainment, did not realize how tough brownfields, such as a capped landfill, are to develop, although the city knew, given the fact that the land sat vacant for approximately 80 years.
“We feel really confident that it’s all going to get sorted out,” she said. “But, as I said the other day, I don’t count my stadiums until they’re hatched. There is a lot of due diligence still to be done.”
The ballpark is part of a larger development project pitched by General Sports, with the ballpark set to open in 2016 (which seems pretty aggressive given the unknown abatement issues) and associated residential and retail development set for 2017. The plan is for the ballpark to host a self-contained summer-collegiate league with three teams and no travel.