Mayor Ivy Taylor stated in a news release that City consultants and staff will “continue looking at various scenarios” for a downtown baseball stadium in San Antonio, “but there is no timeline for action.”
The statement came Wednesday evening after City Council was briefed on a final draft of a market feasibility study that looked at six possible locations for a stadium.
Taylor cited a lack of immediate financial support from private partners for putting the idea on hold. She noted during an interview with the Rivard Report on Thursday that she wouldn’t use the word “shelved” to describe it.
“The private sector dollars would be critical for us to move forward,” Taylor said. “But the study is very helpful for setting a baseline and context for what it would cost and the market for (a Triple-A baseball) stadium here.”
Without a specific site in mind or a private partner willing to participate in a public-private partnership, there’s little staff can do.
“(The stadium) is not in the budget we approved today. It’s not in the recommendations for the 2017 bond, nor am I advocating for it to be,” Taylor said. “It will not be in the bond.”
The fiscal year 2017 City Budget, unanimously approved by City Council on Thursday, does not include any funding related to a baseball stadium, but Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8) questioned if taxpayer dollars might be spent on it anyway as City staff is taking the time – and therefore money – to look at those “various scenarios.”
“The mayor has acknowledged that she wants staff to continue to work on this. How much tax money do we need to waste for the mayor to figure out what taxpayers already know? (They know) this is a bad idea,” Nirenberg told the Rivard Report Thursday morning. “This has been a giant distraction and a waste of time and money for the City.”
After Taylor announced in April that she and the owner of the San Antonio Missions, the local Double-A team, worked out a deal to bring the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox to San Antonio by 2019, there was significant protest for using public money to build the stadium, especially since the owner, Dave Elmore, said he won’t be an equity partner in the ball park. Others in the community agree that baseball stadiums can be a catalyst for economic growth.
Taylor said she might be meeting with Elmore next week.
“The reasons why I’ve been interested in exploring these options – no offense to sports fans – are really more about downtown development and workforce recruitment and retention,” Taylor said, adding that a ball park could be a big add to the growing list of downtown amenities in San Antonio.
California-based Barrett Sports Group, LLC performed a feasibility study on a Triple-A baseball park that looked at six different locations, most of which already have significant projects planned for them including Hemisfair’s Civic Park and the new federal courthouse. Another separate study paid for by Centro San Antonio has yet to be publicly released. It has allegedly been in draft form for several months.
Both studies will be released “in the next few days,” according to the mayor’s news release.
Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), whose district includes downtown, is confident that there will be a new baseball stadium in downtown San Antonio – one day.
“There are opportunities to make it happen,” he said. “When that will happen? That’s a big question mark.”
Unlike other sporting facilities, Treviño added, ball parks create a “very different atmosphere – that’s why we call them ball parks.”
Top image: During an Urban Land Institute luncheon in June, Mayor Ivy Taylor said she includes a baseball stadium in her vision of downtown. Photo by Scott Ball.