Bowling Green approves baseball

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After nearly a month of discussion the Bowling Green City Commission finally makes a decision on bringing a minor league baseball team to town.

On April 26, 2007, the commission unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow the city to continue exploring the option of bringing a single-A baseball team to Bowling Green, Ky.

Bowling Green Mayor Elaine Walker said focusing on just the baseball team would be one-sided because that wouldn't be the only addition to downtown through the development.

"Rather than us talking about a ballpark that we're bringing to downtown, we're looking at a re-development program that will have the effect of changing the whole downtown area," Walker said.

The decision will also help create a Tax Increment Financing district that would cost over $200 million. The TIF money would pay for a ballpark, renovations to WKU’s Van Meter Hall and the creation of SKyPAC.

TIF would also finance a parking garage, hotel and a project on Center Street.

Play Ball committee member, Doug Gorman said the legislation will play a major role.

"Really that TIF made all the difference in the world of making it feasible for this to happen," Gorman said.

If the project succeeds, it will speed up the city's 20-year master plan to re-develop downtown by 15 years.

"This is something instead of piece-mailing things one building at a time when they can take six - eight - ten blocks that have a master plan, a well thought out plan and follow that plan," Gorman said.

Through the TIF legislation between $75,000 and $90,000 will be bonded over 20 years. Seventy percent of that money will come from the state. The other $110 million will come from private investors.

That means succeed or fail, the city won't be paying the bill.

"The city, the county and the state are not putting their full faith and credit behind the bonds and so we don't have that kind of risk," Walker said.

The city commission now has 30 days to iron out the final details and complete development negotiations.

Bowling Green's only commitment to the project will be selling the needed property in order to begin construction and pledging the new TIF revenues back to the state to pay for the project.

To read a complete copy of the memorandum, click here.