Since its opening in 1996, Victory Field has received much praise as the home of the Indianapolis Indians.Â And rightfully so.Â It is a beautiful ballpark in an urban setting that has helped link the central part of downtown to White River State Park.
But the one downside to the new ballpark is what was left behind: Bush Stadium.Â After fourteen years, it is still unknown what will become of the historic stadium.Â The Indianapolis Star had some information on two different proposals for the property.
The most recent proposal from John Watson calls for the salvaging of Bush Stadiumâ€™s faÃ§ade and incorporating it into a residential development.Â Given the proximity to IUPUI, Iâ€™m certain the apartments would be put to use.Â And it is only two blocks away from single family residences, so residential development isnâ€™t a bad proposal. Multi-family development, in fact, could be part of a catalyst to provide more life along 16th Street and Indiana Avenue.
There are no drawings or plans that I have found, so I canâ€™t get into a discussion about the proposals design.Â But we do know the someÂ of the stadium will be demolished.Â And Iâ€™m not a big fan of this sort of faux-preservation.Â Yes, it is better to save the faÃ§ade than to lose it forever.Â I just feel that there are opportunities to make use of the entire stadium and property.
Which is why the proposal by Ryan Fitzpatrick to reuse the stadium and convert the property into a home for green development and technologies sounds intriguing.Â Â Again, I haven’t seen any drawings for this proposal either, but it sounds like they would keep theÂ ballpark intact.Â This proposal would be defined as an â€œoutside the boxâ€ development.Â The commercial and office components would fit in with the immediate surroundings.Â There is a question as to how realistic this proposal is.Â Certainly the apartment proposal is a safer bet; but safer isnâ€™t always better.
I still hold on to the notion that Bush Stadium could be used again as a sports and assembly venue.Â In IUPUIâ€™s 2009 master plan, very little thought and development went into the planning for university land between the White River and 16th Street.Â One drawing shows the land along the northside of the river being home to sports fields for student use.
IUPUI continues to transform itself away from being a commuter campus to a campus that is used and inhabited 24/7 by students.Â Part of that change is the need for things to do.Â And athletics plays a big part of campus life and university identity.Â Bush Stadium could be used by the stadium for baseball, softball, and/or soccer programs.Â If stands are built along the former right field wall, a soccer field that runs north to south could be built and jointly used by a professional soccer club.Â A stage at the north end of the field would allow Bush Stadium to be used as a concert venue (Toyota Park in Chicago has this sort of layout).
Of course, some people would scoff at the notion of a soccer stadium. Has anyone considered using the old stadium as part of a new basketball venue for IUPUI?Â My point is that I truly wonder how much honest consideration has been given to continuing Bush Stadiumâ€™s long time athletic use.Â And that would be my preferred option.
What do you think?Â Do you feel that Bush Stadium still has a place in the local athletics scene?Â Is it time to move on?Â And home important is it to retain the old stands and field in its redevelopment?