Ballpark is slow to aid Gary growth

From the Associated Press, May 12, 2008:

GARY – The city’s minor league baseball stadium is attracting fans, but some city leaders hope it will also attract more economic development to the area and boost property tax revenues.

The U.S. SteelYard, home to the Gary SouthShore RailCats, was proposed in 2000 by former Mayor Scott King with a price tag of $20 million, a cost that eventually grew to $45 million. The park itself wasn’t designed as a moneymaker, but as a way to bring economic development to the area, the Post-Tribune of Merrillville reported.

“The starting point was to bring people in,” King said. “Create the market, not create the businesses.”

Attendance at RailCats games has increased, from about 140,000 people in 2003 to 166,000 in 2007, team representative Aaron Pineda said.

Yet several nearby properties with development potential are still owned by the city of Gary and do not generate property tax revenue, according to Lake County records. The delay in development was partly caused by changes in Indiana’s property tax system, King said, and money from local casinos was no longer available to improve infrastructure in the area.

Gary SouthShore RailCats Official website

My comments: It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Gary, or even through there on the way to Chicago or elsewhere.  I have never had positive feelings about the city, especially with some of the news that occasionally comes out of that town.  I am sure I am not the only person to feel this way.  It would be easy to look at this story and say it applies to our own Harrison Square project.  However, one must keep in mind that Fort Wayne doesn’t have that (well hopefully at least) negative impression to overcome.  Also, a quick perusal of the website states that the team was brought to Gary in time for the 2002 season and the ballpark was built in 2001.  They started from scratch whereas we are moving an established team downtown.  The only possibility for a similarity might be in the cost overrun of the Gary ballpark construction.  So far, the project is on budget, in fact, a little under budget.  Only time will prove out whether it comes in on time and on budget.  Personally, I think there’s a pretty good chance of this happening!

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  1. Steve – “the outlay is, to date, within the budget”. That may be so, but two other dominos need to continue standing – the unnecessary hotel and the unsaleable condos! If these don’t fly as the pushers were to have us believe was “a cake-walk”, the whole deck of cards will fall, and our property tax levies will have to salvage it! Can we say, “You Were Warned!!!! – by most area taxpayers!

  2. John, good points. When writing my post last evening about Mayor Henry’s requests to Barry Real Estate really brought home how delicate this house of cards is. It is precarious. Which was part of my posting the article, “…with a price tag of $20 million, a cost that eventually grew to $45 million.” The Redevelopment Commission really needs to watch every penny or it could balloon very quickly.

    Thanks again for your comments!


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