By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
Councilman Bob McCloskey is starting a campaign – and his term doesn’t end for nearly three years.
The campaign is to persuade people that East Toledo is the best site for a new ballpark for the Toledo Mud Hens. And he’s recruiting helpers from Toledo’s eastern suburbs.
“What I’m asking is for you to give whatever help you can provide,” Mr. McCloskey told Oregon’s city council Monday night. “A lot of children on this side of the river don’t know what the Mud Hens are all about. I think that’s a shame. Moving the Mud Hens would be good for the east side of the river.”
The councilman’s district includes all of East Toledo, as well as a portion of South Toledo.
Mud Hens officials are proposing that a new ballpark should be built in East Toledo, along the riverfront on the site of the Toledo Edison Acme plant. Some of that site’s advantages, they say: free parking, a view of downtown, and proximity to the Toledo Sports Arena.
“The riverfront site just makes sense,” Mr. McCloskey said. “People aren’t going to go to a Mud Hens game and pay four, five bucks to park.”
But some, led by Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, say the site would cost too much to prepare, and prefer a site in downtown’s Warehouse District.
In his State of the City speech last night, the mayor emphasized the downtown ballpark as a key to the central business district’s revitalization.
Mr. McCloskey said he will talk to community groups and local schoolchildren to get them excited about an east side stadium.
He said he will seek support from business leaders as well. Don Monroe, executive director of River East Economic Revitalization Corp., has signed on to help, he said.
Mr. McCloskey said his campaign will take him to such Wood County municipalities as North wood, Walbridge, and Rossford, even though Lucas County owns the team and will decide where the stadium goes.
“I’m going to hit all the east side areas. We have to get more people involved, because not just Lucas County people go to games,” he said.
He told Oregon council that the view from Mr. Finkbeiner’s office in Government Center looks down on the warehouse district, which could explain the mayor’s interest in that site. Mr. McCloskey’s office faces East Toledo.
He also told the council he hopes East Toledo residents could work with Oregon on other issues.
“It’s too bad that Oregon and East Toledo aren’t one and the same,” he said. “But it didn’t work out that way. Yet, we can work together for something like moving the Mud Hens over here.
“That will benefit everybody,” Mr. McCloskey said.