Mayor pushes for fast action on Hens park

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner wants to make sure at least one minor league team is in downtown Tole do.

“The Rossford experience is a wake-up call!” Mr. Finkbeiner wrote in a letter sent yesterday to Lucas County Commissioner Sandy Isenberg and Ed Bergsmark, president of the Mud Hens board of directors.

The mayor was referring to last week’s announcement that a $48 million arena and amphitheater complex would be built in suburban Rossford. Mr. Finkbeiner said the development went to the suburbs because of delays at the Toledo Sports Arena, which is badly in need of renovations.

Much of that delay can be traced to years of infighting among owners of the arena’s main tenant, the Toledo Storm. That’s exactly what the mayor doesn’t want to see happen with the Mud Hens and their quest for a new ballpark.

Officials of the team, the city, and the county have argued with one another in recent months, and Mr. Finkbeiner said those battles have delayed action on construction of a ballpark for the team.

“We’re not aggressively moving forward,” the mayor wrote. “Let’s get moving!”

Mr. Finkbeiner has been criticized repeatedly for his role in the ballpark process. As recently as last week, Ms. Isenberg wrote a scathing letter to the mayor, calling it “beyond comprehension” that he would try to sell the naming rights for the ballpark, which would be a county-owned facility.

In yesterday’s letter, Mr. Finkbeiner again pushed his preferred site for a ballpark, in downtown’s warehouse district. Discussions about where to put a ballpark have been going on for more than a year. “Ed and Sandy, there is a huge need for a new facility for the Mud Hens and a huge need to support the downtown,” he wrote. “It is time to move forward and reach that conclusion.”

If area leaders do not act fast, the mayor wrote, the Detroit Tigers could choose to end its affiliation with the Mud Hens.

Mr. Bergsmark and Ms. Isenberg did not return phone calls seeking comment last night.

On the same day Mr. Finkbeiner was pushing for a downtown site, two suburban governments were questioning the wisdom of such a location.

Maumee’s city council approved a resolution asking Lucas County to keep the Mud Hens in their current home, Ned Skeldon Stadium in Maumee.

Springfield Township Trustee Walter Taube, Jr., asked that the Lucas County commissioners and city of Toledo conduct a study to determine the economic impact of a downtown location.

Mr. Taube said he was not taking a stand for or against the proposal, but said such a study should be made before taxpayers’ money is spent. He said some studies of ballparks elsewhere showed they resulted in no economic benefit.