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GRobserver

Downtown ballpark proposed by Rockford Construction

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Well, this appears to be the "big news" that we've been waiting for.

(Maybe?)

Breaking News from GRBJ.com

Ballpark idea floated for downtown

The Grand Rapids Business Journal is reporting that Rockford Companies CEO John Wheeler has revealed a proposal to build a ballpark downtown which could house the West Michigan Whitecaps. Wheeler discussed the proposal at a morning session of the University of Michigan/Urban Land Institute Real Estate Forum being held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

For more details on this developing story, visit http://www.grbj.com

For ongoing coverage from the final day of the 2008 UM/ULI Real Estate Forum, visit the new Business Journal blog at http://grbusinessjournal.blogspot.com/.

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Well, one key sentence won't hurt, right?

Wheeler has targeted the city-owned parking lots, known as Area 4 and 5, for the 8,000 to 10,000 seat baseball park.

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I wonder if the Whitecaps will actually go for this...Fifth Third Ballpark was built in 1994, so it's really not that old. Plus, what else would they stadium be used for if they moved?

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This is a great idea! One little question: Would they build a parking ramp or want me to take mass transit?! :rolleyes:

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If there were a ballpark downtown I would sign up for season tickets. What a great summertime activity - walking to the ballpark for a game!

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I like the multipurpose idea of it. Concerts, Whitecaps, maybe a GVSU football game from time to time? It could be busy every night all summer...hopefully it will spawn some other things like a movie theater or some Dave and Buster's type venue too (or a BW3...). I do wonder what will become of 5/3...it wouldn't be the only 15 year old stadium in the country left for a downtown venue. I think Ft. Wayne is leaving a park built in 1993 for downtown.

We'll see if this goes the way of a dream or not! I hope he pulls it off!

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They should have done that to begin with. I'm sure it's more of a pipe dream at this point. Who knows how cost effective it would be. Tho it would be cool as hell.

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Ok...Who's going to pay for this, and why do we need ANOTHER one?

The time to have done this was when people were screaming when they made the idiotic decision to park Old Kent Park where they did.

No sane person is going to want to see public funds put up for this. Not now.

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Who knows if this will actually happen. Seems a waste to desert a perfectly good ballpark in Comstock Park. Perhaps much of the current Whitecaps ballpark could be disassembled and used in this new project (could be a way to score LEED points?).

If it were to happen, I would hope this ballpark would be people oriented, not car oriented.

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Chris Knape (via twitter):

"Wheeler tells me the ballpark idea is "only a dream" and he has no real plan."

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Chris has an article out already:

Wheeler said he had no real plan and no desire to own his own team.

"It's just my dream," he said. "It's an economic engine in Lansing, Dayton, Joliet, Oklahoma City."

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Who knows if this will actually happen. Seems a waste to desert a perfectly good ballpark in Comstock Park. Perhaps much of the current Whitecaps ballpark could be disassembled and used in this new project (could be a way to score LEED points?).

If it were to happen, I would hope this ballpark would be people oriented, not car oriented.

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what a coincidence!

I just happened to put this together a few weeks ago when I was still considering the idea for my thesis...

2947832824_34a5d6b89c_b.jpg

Mr. Wheeler, I'm done with school in May if you'd like to talk.

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what a coincidence!

I just happened to put this together a few weeks ago when I was still considering the idea for my thesis...

Mr. Wheeler, I'm done with school in May if you'd like to talk.

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...which was constructed in the early 70s.

Ford Field: in-fill in DT Detroit using at least one existing vintage building (Hudson's warehouse). It's an enclosed stadium and is used year-round.

Multi-use would be the way to go, with some sort of regular operations rather than BIG SPECIAL EVENT held only in the summer.

Heard interesting feedback about 5/3rd's attempt to reach out to the masses with the Irish festival and another one attempted this summer. Patrons stayed away in droves.

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I thought that parking lot, directly south, was being saved for an expansion of the arena? The Van Andel arena is basically not fully finished, correct?

Also, wouldn't it be very costly to build a year-round baseball stadium (a 300+ million dollar facility like the arena)? Plus, wouldn't that defeat the point of an outdoor amphitheater if it's covered? Concert goers should just go to the arena then.

He should have suggested buildng a multipurpose football field for all the colleges and Rampage football IMO. I'd think that would bring in more tickets sales with GVSU and Rampage playing there.

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Do they have any idea why?

BTW: I don't believe this ballpark idea is what I was hearing about.

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I thought that parking lot, directly south, was being saved for an expansion of the arena? The Van Andel arena is basically not fully finished, correct?

He should have suggested buildng a multipurpose football field for all the colleges and Rampage football IMO. I'd think that would bring in more tickets sales with GVSU and Rampage playing there.

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This would be an absolute nightmare. Parking? Traffic? Noise?

Seasonal... what happens during the winter? All that land... just sitting there... not being used. What a waste.

Besides, the VanAndel Arena provides a venue for sports.

I hope people really think this one through.

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I agree that Grand Rapids should have a AA or AAA team instead of a low A ball team. Now, I'm not saying that this market could support two baseball teams, but I wonder if the Whitecaps would take this opportunity to try and move up the ranks. Double A would make a lot of sense. The Tigers currently have its AA affliation with Lake Erie. A top-notch stadium combined with our proximity to Detroit would likely be enough to get the Tigers to move their double A affiliation to GR. Then one of the other Class A teams in the state (Lansing or Midland) could take over the low A affliation with the Tigers.

And Wheeler is right. The stadium in Lansing has done a bunch for that area of their downtown. The impact in GR would like be even greater in my mind.

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This would be an absolute nightmare. Parking? Traffic? Noise?

Seasonal... what happens during the winter? All that land... just sitting there... not being used. What a waste.

Besides, the VanAndel Arena provides a venue for sports.

I hope people really think this one through.

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van andel arena provides a venue for indoor sports. hockey. arena football. basketball. not baseball.

and yes, i do think grand rapids is eyeing a move into the international league, or AAA. maybe the eastern league of AA (michigan has no AAA or AA teams).... the single A affiliate could move to a city on the lake like muskegon or holland and do ok, maybe even flint... i know they have wanted and had opportunities for a team in flint for many years, but never went through.

but seriously, 5/3 ballpark is dated already, and a newer, better planned, and slightly (slightly the key work here. 12,000 seats at the most) bigger with better lighting (lighting is HUGELY important for teams looking to make the leap from A ball to AA or AAA) and in a better area would do wonders for the city and minor league baseball altogether. look at toledo.

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I always liked going to the Whitecaps game and found 5/3rd Ballpark a nice place but I hated driving all the way out there to see a game. Plus, I agree that GR should be a AAA city or at least AA.

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