State bill seeks funding for stadium expansion, convention center at Four Winds Field
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Details of plans to improve and expand South Bend’s baseball stadium are trickling out now that a bill moving through the Indiana legislature could open up the funding floodgates.
In the past 10 years, Four Winds Field has drawn some 3.2 million visitors to ball games, concerts, and other events.
“I think it was July 3rd or 4th we had 8,401 people in the stadium. That was a packed house. I think that is our record 8,104, and we’re going to try go get that over 10,000,” said South Bend Cubs owner Andrew Berlin.
The planned stadium expansion would keep the current facility footprint and build an upper deck.
“We’ve done great things with Howard Park, other wonderful things around the city. This is just another exclamation mark on all those efforts so, again don’t see any downside of this news,” Berlin added. “We’re not just looking to make this a little bit better. I think the city deserves a magnificent stadium. I think the city is experiencing a renaissance these days, and a lot of good things are happening.”
Especially since the plan now includes a presumption that the State of Indiana will pay the entire cost through a special program it offers to promote professional sports. “Well, we have them all over the state and so, you have Fort Wayne has theirs, has some stadiums in that, you have Indianapolis, you have Evansville is really small, so, you know South Bend’s competitive,” Ind. Sen. Ryan Mishler told 16 News Now.
There was a time when the city let its participation in the program lapse in 2017. Lawmakers had to agree to reinstate South Bend’s status in 2021, and now this year, they’re being asked to increase the amount of money the program can provide for the stadium to $2.5 million a year for the next 20 years.
Plans for the stadium expansion also call for a new building on the stadium grounds in the area of left field that promises to make Four Winds Field more of a four seasons attraction.
“We’re going to build some convention space to be able to draw more businesses to downtown,” Berlin explained. “Make meeting space, but really, it’s for all fans. The amenities will be tremendous, and the ability to do even more food options, more comfort to enjoy, even the colder weather. There will be options in the park to make it more comfortable for our fans and so, we have a few surprises coming. I don’t want to get into it now, but I think at the end of the day, this is going to be a gathering place from April to September, where the citizens can really enjoy it, and then even after the baseball stadium. We’ll be doing a lot more events there in the wintertime, the autumn, spring.”
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