JG Harrison Square coverage

AFW photo

Two articles in today’s Journal Gazette highlighting Harrison Square and this week’s opening of Parkview Field.  Photos on this post are AFW photos, not the JG’s.

TinCaps scramble to get new digs ready
By Benjamin Lanka – Link to the Article

[…] TinCaps President Mike Nutter said despite the ongoing construction, he doesn’t know of one thing that won’t be done in time for the first pitch Thursday evening.

[…] Other examples include no hot water when the team first checked out the ballpark, the seats in the Tree Top section aren’t finished and the concrete section beyond center field had yet to be painted green.

Nutter said in talking to other teams that opened new ballparks, he knows his experience isn’t any different. But that doesn’t make it easier. Because The Harrison condominium/retail project has been delayed, the team must install a temporary four-window ticket booth at the park’s north entrance. It is scheduled to arrive Monday.

[…] Aside from finishing the installation of ballpark amenities, Nutter said testing must be done.

“We need to flush 30 toilets at once,” he said. “You’ve got to stress this thing a little.”

Webmaster’s note: The seats in the Tree Top section were almost completed as of late Saturday and the centerfield painting had been completed.

AFW Photo

The second article is about the Harrison Square project.

Harrison Square still has ‘good feel’
Despite delays, ex-mayor believes project will be completed

By Benjamin Lanka – Link to article

Looking up at the grand southern entrance to Parkview Field with a smile, Graham Richard proved his enthusiasm for Harrison Square hasn’t waned.

[…] “I really see this as a gathering place,” Richard said. “This is a catalyst. It is a stimulus for the downtown economy.”

[…] Richard, a Democrat, said he is troubled by the recent economic collapse, but he still believes the deal was a good one at the time. Neither he nor anyone else, could have predicted the economy would fall so quickly, Richard said, adding his retirement account is proof of that.

But Richard and other early proponents said it’s still too early to judge the entire project.

“We really won’t know for 10 years if it was the right thing to do or not,” former city Councilman Dr. John Crawford said. “I’m still glad I did it, but I’m still worried about it. It was a gamble then, and it is a gamble now.”

Crawford, a Republican, cast one of the most calculated votes on the issue, waiting until the call for the vote to declare his support.

[…] Mark Becker, Richard’s deputy mayor, said Hardball Capital decided to buy Fort Wayne’s baseball team because the city’s downtown studies were on the city’s Web site.

“We were prepared to have private investment,” Richard said.

In fact, Becker said upon meeting Jason Freier and Chris Schoen of Hardball, he tried to show them the city’s plans to garner interest in downtown investment.

Becker said he was told, “We know your plan. That’s why we’re here.”

[…] Of course, having an aggressive mayor pushing the project didn’t hurt. Becker said the mayor made sure his first meeting with Hardball – on a city holiday – was at the Summit Club so he could be sure to show the downtown landscape and where a ballpark and other development would fit.

“The mayor always said great things can happen when opportunity meets preparation,” Becker said.

Those great things also required plenty of work, Becker added, which often stressed city staff. Fortunately, he said, the mayor was always there to refocus the staff to complete a deal.

Since leaving office, Richard said he believes the city and its current administration have done a good job following up on those plans.

[…] That hasn’t tempered the optimism of Sam Talarico, a former Republican city councilman who pushed hard to get Harrison Square approved. He said the hurdles downtown are the same ones that have popped up across the country.

“I’m no less excited about it now than when I voted for it,” he said. “I am convinced the hotel and other things are going to happen at some point. The naysayers are always going to have ammunition. It’s easy to be the critic.”

[…] “The private development will happen,” he said emphatically, arguing the city chose quality developers based on their experience of success. “Delay, it’s not defeat. It’s just delay.”

He also took a shot at those who think the developers haven’t lived up to their agreements, saying the delays are market-driven, not a performance concern.

The former mayor believes more restaurants will likely be the first development to appear downtown to coincide with the stadium.

In the future he sees a trolley along Harrison Street that drops people off at Grand Wayne Center to allow them to walk through the convention hall to the ballpark.

[…] Because he maintains a downtown office – he has traveled the state and country since leaving office as a consultant pushing for efficient government practices – Richard said he has had many opportunities to hop over to the stadium and walk around to see its amenities. He said he truly enjoys watching the reactions of people who look at the stadium for the first time.

“This has a good feel,” he said.

To help celebrate the stadium, Richard, Talarico and Crawford plan to attend Thursday’s home opener.

[…] Talarico said just looking at the stadium has changed minds.

“People kept thinking we were going to build another Memorial Stadium,” he said. “What we have downtown is so different.”

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