Friday, January 4, 2013

It Still Doesn't Feel Right: RIP Bush Stadium 1931-1996

I don't remember what the reason was that I was on 16th street a few days ago, but it was the first time I had driven by the former Bush Stadium and I couldn't still see the stands, the old field, and all that still made it seem like a baseball stadium. Yes, a stadium that had long past its heyday, but a stadium nonetheless.

And this is probably the first time I've been visibly forced to confront the reality: Bush Stadium is no longer going to be Bush Stadium, the former home of the Indianapolis Indians. It isn't going to be revitalized into an athletic venue for other uses. It isn't going to be rebuilt into a memorial museum that'll show the rich history baseball and sports has with this city.

It isn't going to be any of those things that might be a proper spiritual successor of Bush Stadiums.

It is going to a be a bunch of apartments.

And I'm sure the people developing the apartments are good folks and are respecting the history and whatnot.

And I know that, considering the facts at hand, apartments are probably the best bet for this part of town at this point of time. The area has businesses, it is close to downtown. But there isn't a whole lot of properties up for rent, and this provides an avenue for people to move to the west side and be close to downtown without having to pay downtown prices. 

But as a long-time resident of the northwest side of town, this still doesn't feel right.

As a kid, I was never really into sports, probably to my dad's and grandfather's disappointment. To this day, I still can't even tell you what constitutes a first down. The fact that I used a word like "constitutes" when talking about football probably tells you how much I know about sports in general. And whenever my dad or grandfather did take me to any type of sport events, they'd ask me questions like "Do you know who is winning?" and I'd NEVER know the answer.

But I did like food. Specifically, I liked the food at Bush Stadium during Indians' games. The hot dogs, the pizza, the huge sodas (remember when 32oz sodas were the large size and not small????). And during the warmer months, we got to see a fireworks show. And it was always a really big one on the 4th of July.

I remember one year, my dad and I tried to get into the 4th of July game but they were sold out. So we drove to one of the parking lots surrounding the stadium, and parked near a food-stand. I don't remember if we listened in on the radio, or if it was on television, or if we just sat outside for an hour and listened to the crowd cheered.

But what I do remember is seeing the fireworks just as well, maybe even better, as those in the stadium. In fact, quite a bit better, because I remember some of the sparks actually landing in the parking lot themselves!

As a kid, I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

And now, as an adult who has some type of grasp on what makes this community and this city, a stadium on the west side of town sounds like the coolest idea ever.

A sports stadium outside of downtown? Without a bunch of bars for people to go get drunk at before/during/after the game? Without a bunch of hotels around? And could you imagine come Carmelites having to drive through the west side, and if they wanted to enjoy a post-game drink, the nearest bar is The Recovery Room and not some swanky expensive thing connected to the JW Marriott?

But outside of that, I started to think about the benefits of having Bush Stadium. What if it had stayed? Maybe if it got some of the same push that "The Fieldhouse" (I seriously do hate that new name) and Lucas Oil got, we'd see some of the success downtown has gotten and it'd be helping out those outside of the Mile Square. Maybe promotions could've been done to drive up use of the nearby White River Trail and that could drive up use of the Trail. Maybe that would mean resources would be diverted to the Trail and making it a bit better and more usable rather than always by-default dumping beautification projects onto The Monon?

There's a lot of What If's that surround the end of Bush Stadium. But if the Powers-That-Be want to develop the entire community, and not just one or two sections of it, we need to think big. Bush Stadium, back in the 1930s, was a big idea. Maybe we need something else like it today.

And maybe you could put it in an area that could really use the development.

1 comment:

  1. A friend of mine was working on a plan to develop Bush Stadium into a "living building." Basically a zero waste self-sustaining complex that would have acted as a global showplace and lab for energy effeciency and future eco design.

    He was working with IUPUI and the city to come up with a plan to move forward. They even held off the current redevelopment project while he was trying to finalize everything.

    I'm not entirely sure why it never got off the ground. It was a tremendously ambitious project. There are only a handful of living buildings around the world. Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh being one.


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