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Councilmen seek $1.6 million from Legacy fund for youth baseball academy

Monday, August 25, 2014 - 8:06 am

On the same night City Council is expected to create a committee to screen requests for Legacy funds, two members plan to seek a $1.6 million grant that would bypass the new process.

Tom Didier, R-3rd, and Geoff Paddock, D-5th, are seeking the money on behalf of the World Baseball Academy, a plan to upgrade the 26-acre Ash Centre at 1701 Freeman St. into "first-choice destination for youth sports activities. The private organization would have to provide $3 for every $1 from the Legacy fund, created through the sale of the city's former electric utility.

Phase one would include creation of three youth-sized baseball fields; phase two a collegiate-sized field.

About 2,000 youths currently participate in the Academy's annual Hoosier Classic amateur tournament, but supporters say the project could attract even more participants and spectators, boosting the local economy.

Deputy Mayor Karl Bandemer and Councilman Tom Smith, R-1st, have expressed reservations about considering the application without review by the new committee, proposed by Mayor Tom Henry. Six of nine council members must approve use of Legacy funds.