Iveson responds to Alomar’s RE/MAX Field letter: ‘There’s no axe hanging over baseball’
Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar wrote a letter to Edmonton City Council earlier this month, urging it to keep RE/MAX Field.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this ballpark for baseball in Alberta and, more importantly, how devastating it would be to the baseball community and the many young players if it were to be demolished,” Alomar wrote in his March 2 letter (Scroll down to read in full).
“This would be a major step in the wrong direction, especially when you consider all the progress that has been made by the (Edmonton) Prospects over the course of the last few years.”
Alomar was recently in Edmonton for the Prospects’ second-annual Baseball Gala and spoke to the team’s managing partner, Patrick Cassidy, about the future of the ballpark.
“I have made a commitment to Mr. Cassidy to do whatever I can do to see that this ballpark remains an integral and important piece of the Edmonton landscape,” Alomar wrote. “It represents thousands of memories and sits on a location that has historical significance to fans, athletes and historians alike.”
Watch below: On March 13, 2018, John Sexsmith filed this report about ongoing questions over the future of Edmonton’s RE/MAX Field.
In 2016, the Prospects signed a four-year leasing agreement with the city with an option for a fifth year. That means, the 10,000-seat ballpark will be around until at least 2020.
The mayor said Monday no decisions have been made about the future of Edmonton’s river valley ball diamond.
“We haven’t made any determination one way or another what the long-term strategy will be for the ballpark, but rising attendance numbers obviously help the case for reinvestment,” Don Iveson said.
“Certainly, there has been speculation over the years about redevelopment of the ballpark. The city has no intention to do that at this time; it’s just an option or a suggestion that’s been made in the past.
“There’s no particular agenda other than to honour the lease commitments we have with the Prospects and work with them to expand both the baseball use as well as… concerts, things like that — that help sustain the facility.”
Watch: The Edmonton Prospects are looking to capture their first Western Major Baseball League crown. As Kent Morrison reports, a win tonight would be huge for the team but even bigger for baseball in Edmonton.
“The city has signed an extended lease with the Prospects and is excited to see baseball grow there. Attendance numbers are going up and that’s very positive.
“We’re still an awful long way from a sustainable cost model there and the ballpark is ageing and going to require a lot of investment.”
The city is looking at several options for the area after the 2020-2021 mark; some of which include RE/MAX Field and some that don’t.
City planner Peter Ohm said a report on options for redevelopment of the Rossdale area in the future will be presented to council in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Ohm said it was still “very early in the process” and city staff have a lot of ground to cover and public engagement to do. Ohm said Cassidy has been part of the early discussions about possible scenarios.
“We’ve looked at it in the context of redevelopment of the lands adjacent and the ballpark could be an amenity and a catalyst for redevelopment,” Iveson said. “It has been suggested in the past that the site of the ball diamond itself could be redeveloped, but again, the city has made no decisions.
“There’s no axe hanging over the ball diamond, just to be clear about that.”
One idea Alomar suggested in his letter was a Ballpark District, which he said he spoke about with Cassidy.
“In my view, this is not only a sensible approach but also a major potential economic opportunity for the city,” the former Toronto Blue Jay wrote.
The Prospects, meanwhile, are on a mission to secure the long-term future of the diamond.
In an article posted on the team’s website, the Prospects call out to Edmontonians and baseball fans to support the club, buy tickets to games, and write their own letters to city council in support of RE/MAX Field.
“We can’t let this happen,” Cassidy wrote. “It is our responsibility and mission — and when I say our mission, I mean anyone and everyone who cares about baseball, the river valley and the future of both. We simply can’t let this happen.”
Iveson reiterated no decisions have been made about the diamond post-2020. The renewed interest — Alomar letter included — may have simply come from those questions, he feels.
“Because of the uncertainty around the future of the park — and because on some level people understand that attendance is not enough to justify the size of ball diamond we have today — that that means that some change is coming in the future.”
The mayor said he’s heard suggestions like tearing down the metal bleachers and keeping the main grandstand so that space can be used for other revenue opportunities.
“Because there’s speculation and because there’s uncertainty, people are pulling out all the stops, but there’s no imminent decision, there’s no axe hanging over baseball right now and we just want to see the Prospects grow and succeed.”
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