What's happening in and around Phoenixville, PA.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Info on the Baseball Stadium Proposal

Over the past week, a number of articles and a podcast have come out regarding the proposal to bring a minor league baseball stadium to Phoenixville. In Sunday's Inquirer, a brief overview of the timeline for a decision was presented.

The group seeking to build a minor-league baseball stadium in Chester County is writing the criteria to evaluate the 11 sites that have been nominated.

"We hope to have site visits and evaluations completed by the end of summer," said Tom McIntyre of the Chester County Development Council and a member of the Chester County Stadium Project Task Force, which now has 30 members.

Members of the task force's 12-person steering committee are putting together the evaluation criteria. The committee is scheduled to meet later this month with the full task force slated to hold its next meeting July 23.

"We're a volunteer group so there's been no hard schedule," McIntyre said. "We'd like to visit the sites, either impromptu or scheduled. Some of the owners [of nominated sites] have even offered to show us around."

Read More!

The Phoenix followed up a couple of days later with a little more information about what was in the proposal that Councilman Handwerk and his committee put together. In it they highlighted Phoenixville's ties to professional baseball with the likes of Mike Piazza and Andre Thornton growing up here, the fact that we can leverage the stadium with the vibrant downtown scene, and the fact that, with the steel site, we have more than enough land to support the stadium.

Skip Lawrence also did a sit down interview with Councilman Handwerk to discuss the proposal which has been podcast on PhoenixvilleNews.com.

Finally, a reader Bashar M., wrote me last week and asked that I post the following editorial on why he feels bringing baseball to Phoenixville would be a great boon to the community.

Like my father before me, I am a salesman by trade. Normally people shrink away when they hear my profession, thinking of a greasy used-car salesman. I get the look of recognition and then a quick shift to a different conversation topic (as if I am about to sell them something). But truthfully I look at sales differently than most people do. I believe that a sale is the transfer of excitement from one person to another. If the new person is actually excited about something, then I have done my job, sale or no sale.
Now if you agree with what my definition of sales is, then I have been selling something for about the past month. Its not even mine to sell. It might not even be a reality, and I can’t really say that I love the category that it falls under. But, I cant help selling it nonetheless. Baseball, that’s right, I am a 26 year old, American man, that doesn’t LOVE baseball; but I can’t help but get jubilant whenever I hear of the possibility of a baseball team coming to Phoenixville.
As I just said, I am 26 years old, married, and looking to start a family in Phoenixville. My wife, Lacy, and I live in the new French Creek Town home community overlooking the old steel mill site. I have heard talk about train tracks, office buildings, parking decks, etc, being put behind my house. But when I first heard about a possible baseball team in my backyard I told everyone that I possibly could and I started to find out as much information on the opportunity as possible.
My wife and I are from North Carolina, we moved here because of work and this is the first house that we have owned. Because of this, I am very interested in seeing Phoenixville continue to grow, prosper, and improve upon the qualities that attracted us initially. I have spoken with people that don’t like the growth / renaissance that Phoenixville is going through and I always hear the same thing, “People are trying to make Phoenixville into Manayunk...that can never happen” etc. I agree, and honestly, I hope that Phoenixville never becomes Manayunk. Manayunk is a great place to hang out, possibly live, if you are single, or recently out of college. But Phoenixville stands out, to me, for being a great place for young families to start their life and enjoy a thriving downtown experience with the least amount of hassle that comes with a younger and rowdier crowd.
To this point I have spoken only about Phoenixville in general, but what can a baseball team bring into this equation? Now as I said before, I am not a big baseball fan. I can watch and understand a game, but I don’ t even know what all the abbreviations on a stat sheet stand for. What I do know, and what I do like, is the sporting experience. Honestly, what is better than going somewhere with your family for the afternoon that is affordable, entertaining, and keeps everybody happy for an extended amount of time? Multiply that with a close location (walking distance for some), food, beverage, and 4-5 thousand equally enthralled people and most people will have attained some sort of euphoria.
From what I have seen, and I have only been in the area for a little less than 2 years, Phoenixville has a great community spirit. Downtown Phoenixville on a Friday night is a great experience for anybody that comes. We have a great amount of mass appeal with the stores, restaurants, and performing locations. My wife and I never miss a chance to walk around for the evening on a First Friday. In my opinion Phoenixville has proven that it is a great community that will not only embrace the arrival of a baseball team, but enjoy and partake in a team’s presence to the utmost of our ability.
I am sure that many people are aware that Phoenixville was named one of the top 100 places to relocate. Again, my wife and I are a prime example of that, moving here from North Carolina. Being from North Carolina I have had the opportunity to see, first hand, what an opportunity such as this can do for a community. Any baseball fan that was alive in the late 80’s no doubt remembers the movie Bull Durham, with Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins. That movie was actually based on the Durham, N.C. minor league baseball team The Durham Bulls.
The Durham Bulls have been around since the early 1900’s. In 1994 the Durham Bull’s stadium was rebuilt and located right around downtown Durham. The growth to the immediate surrounding areas was astounding. Within a couple of years The American Tobacco Building, an old warehouse next to the stadium, was remodeled with office buildings, restaurants, condominiums, and parking decks. All the business spaces were sold and the restaurants are frequented, not only by local workers, but by families about to attend a game.
It is my understanding that the baseball stadium only needs 15-16 acres of land to be constructed. It is also my understanding that the old steel sight has over 125 acres of land that can be utilized for whatever reasons. As long as it is done correctly there is no reason why that land cannot be fully utilized, for the benefit of Phoenixville, in conjunction with the construction of a new stadium
I do not have to tell anybody that there are pros and cons to every situation. Also, let me be the first to say that I know nothing about funding, zoning, architecture, construction, and all the other pieces of the puzzle that must be put together to build a new stadium. I cannot help but notice the huge amount of pros for constructing a baseball stadium in downtown Phoenixville. Parking, additional retail locations, increased consumer traffic, and regularly scheduled sporting events all greatly outweigh what I can see as being the cons of bringing a team here. As I stated earlier, I live in the town home community that overlooks the proposed location for the stadium. Now, whenever I look at that field I cannot help but imagine a new stadium, season tickets, and watching a game with my wife and a cold beer.
I don’t like baseball that much; hockey is my sport of preference. But I, along with most of the people I have spoken with in my area, have already pledged to get season tickets if the team comes to our town. It’s not just the thought of watching a baseball game that excites me, but what a baseball team could do for our quality of life. Now just imagine if this had been written by a baseball fanatic.

Bashar Massarani


Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that the proposed baseball stadium is slated for a portion of the steel site. I don't agree that this project is a great idea, and think it fuels existing problems in the borough, but it seems to have decent community backing. (I don't have to agree with all the ideas of our borough.)

That said, I have heard no mention of the Phoenix Steel site's property owner in the coverage. Has Handwerk and his committee engaged in discussions with the land owner of the steel site?

If you are prohibited from parking on the steel site property across from Iron Hill, how are you going to be able to secure an entire baseball stadium?

Let's not put the cart before the horse.

JW said...

It is my understanding that PPG is in the process of selling the steel site to Brandywine Financial Services who, assuming the sale goes through, have given their approval for the building of the stadium.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't a baseball stadium be empty most of the time, making somewhat poor use of the space? Don't stadiums tend to be more on the outskirts of towns? It seems as though a stadium would also dramatically change the character of downtown, which seems to be doing quite well as is. On game nights what will happen to the traffic pattern?

I'm not opposed to a baseball stadium in principle, but I'm not thrilled about the prospects of placing one in this location.

Anonymous said...

This is a horrible idea. There are no major roads. Traffic is bad enough now during rush hour, let alone trying to get home on a game night. It totally changes the character of downtown. There is already a lack of parking. I am sure there will be a need for more police as well.

I am sure this stadium will go well with the recently purchased ferris wheel, which is another brilliant idea. (this is sarcasm if you couldn't figure it out).

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sarcasm, your intended use of sarcasm was pretty evident even to us brain dead folks. However, your criticism of a BBall team is not based in factual statements. There is a proposed parking authority (even if it isn't popular) and later would have to happen before the stadium. Since we have established a parking authority this would seem to make sense.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so, is the parking authority going to handle the other issues with the baseball stadium, regarding the police? Are the parking authority folks going to give parking tickets to the rowdy drunks leaving the game? Like I said, I listed obvious problems and you listed no factual statements. Proposed parking authority does not mean there is going to be one.

What about the roads? I see you have no factual statements regarding how that problem will be handled either.

When you check your facts come back and make another statement, and that isn't sarcasm.

MY said...

Wow, relax people. This is 1 of 11sites being considered and it is obviously early on in the process. I am sure that these are all factors to address as to the location of the stadium. While drunkeness and police are an obvious concern, it is also a great benefit to have something like this to further boost the downtown economy.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Mr Sarcasm needs a drink at the ballpark. I only proposed that there may be a solution to the parking issue if the parking falls into place. Maybe we shouldn't open any businesses since people may get drunk and walk around and cause trouble (Oh no, not the drunks). As far as the trouble with the roads and traffic : Most baseball games are on weekends or weekday nights (not during rush hour) so the traffic should be lighter (not light but lighter). If your so concerned about these issues then why don't you bring them up to council instead of wasting your breath on a blog. Oh, I know why, because you just like to complain about things instead of asking questions (legitimate) and coming up with positive solutions. Step up to the plate Mr Sarcasm and give some positive energy a try. It might help that blood pressure to - Jeesh!

Pete Schwetty

Anonymous said...

Hey Pete,

I guess you must not have a regular job if you think the games won't affect rush hour traffic. If a game starts at 7PM, then most people get there earlier. I would suggest you try driving on Bridge St and Starr St around that time and see how fun it is. I am not sure what your definition of rush hour is.

Secondly, I was making one point, wasn't the entire part of my post. Also, this is a non issue anyhow for the most part. There are 11 different sites they can choose with better logistics than Phoenixville.

As far as I can tell you are the only one who is getting bent out of shape here. I said it was a bad idea and I am entitled to my opinion. You said I didn't ask "legitimate questions." I guess concerns regarding traffic and such aren't legitimate?

I bet you did well on the debate team in high school....you haven't even brought up one fact to me yet.

JW said...

no need for this to get personal folks

Anonymous said...

Mr Sarcasm, your two brilliant points were:

1) traffic - legitimate concern
2) drunks - not legitimate

The traffic concerns are reasonable but rush hour is usually between 4 - 6 pm. But you could stretch it to fit your argument to 10 pm if it makes you feel better.

Secondly, the drunk argument is bogus unless your hanging out at the old Vet Stadium (I bet you have some original seats in your basement). Try going to a Reading Phils game and do a little R & D.

Hey maybe we shouldn't open a movie theater because people might make out in the back of the theater. Talk about having no legitimate arguments on the debate team. Or maybe we shouldn't open a cigar bar because it may be too stinky. We can't have any sporting good stores because kids might swing the bats in the rack and injure someone. Why open a shoe store if someone may trip while trying their shoes on.

The point is your arguments based on fear is not legitimate. If you have a better idea then grow some baseballs and open your own business in that empty lot. How about we just close all of the new businesses and reopen The Phoenix Tavern if that would make you happy. Step up to the plate and do something instead of just criticizing others. Of course not, why would you do that? No baseballs, thats why.

Pete Schwetty
Debate Team President
The Phoenix Tavern

Anonymous said...


Thats hilarious!

Anonymous said...

I hate to rain on the parade going on here, but concerns about drunks (and those who are high on illegal substances) is realistic and becoming a problem in Phoenixville with the addition of so many bars.

The Phoenixville police have been picking up far more people "under the influence" than in just 3 short years ago -- and unfortunately, there is no safe facility to place these people until they "come down."

There have been several meetings of the social service agencies to try to figure out what to do about the problem. Phoenixville Hospital does not have facilities for such individuals. The Phoenixville police is understandably concerned about putting so many individuals in the Borough holding cells --- first, it takes up cells that are needed for criminal activity and second, persons under the influence need specialized watching to determine that they are "coming down" okay and not having additional medical problems/emergencies.

Phoenixville Community Health Foundation is being approached to fund a facility and personel to staff such a facility. Five years ago, Phoenixville didn't need such a facility -- now, the Phoenixville police believe that such a facility is essential -- but where is it going to be, who is going to fund it and how will it be staffed?

These are legitmate questions for discussion.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6/26/08 8:44 AM
The Phoenixville police have been picking up far more people "under the influence"...

...it takes up cells that are needed for criminal activity...

To my knowledge, you can still be arrested for Public Intoxication or Disorderly Conduct...while they are only misdemeanors, usually resulting in a fine (as opposed to jail time), they still fall under the police department's jurisdiction. In addition, possessing a controlled substance or illegal narcotic is most definitely still a crime--we have a dedicated team of officers in our borough that work very hard to reduce and (hopefully) eliminate the distribution points in our borough.

These problems in the borough are not new. They previously were concentrated in one or two areas--LoJo's or the Pennsylvania House. Now that LoJo's no longer exists, you don't expect that these habitual problem people suddenly found sobriety--they are just going to other bars in the borough.

Personally, I'd rather have an intoxicated person walking home as opposed to driving home, putting my life at risk, your life at risk and the lives of our emergency responders at risk.

Anonymous said...

I hate to jump in on this one but the "drunks" you are talking about are not going to the Phoenixville bars. If you have walked around town you'll notice a population of drunks during the morning hours (I'm talking like 8 or 9 am). These people are not the same folks that are paying $6.50 for a draft beer at one of our higher priced bars.

Your saying that the population of drinking related problems has increased "in the past 3 years" and you are implying that it is a result of the rest/bars in town (that is not completely true). Sure there are increases in occurrences of over-drinking in town but only one bar (Iron Hill) has been in town for 3 years (tops) and some have recently opened (other than Columbia).

So your facts are misleading and draw an untrue conclusion. I am not completely disagreeing with you because anytime you increase the number of bars there will be a direct result of increased drinking related incidents but the number of bars has not increased. Plus, I am downtown (live and work) all day and I see the people that are walking around drunk (trust me these people are not drinking at Iron Hill). I partially agree with your statements but disagree with the conclusion that is implied.

The facts are that in the recent past (3 yrs or more) there were more places to drink in town such as (LoJos, The various bar names where Tyler James now is open, The gay bar, Kohns, Columbia, and The Phoenix Tavern). Since then they have all closed except for The Columbia.

Currently we have The Columbia, Iron Hill (open 2+yrs), Molly McGuires (recently opened), and Tyler James (recently opened). So we have 2 less establishments (if your counting the newest bars open less than a year) to drink at then 5 years ago with 2 more opening which will make it an even 6 in the near future.

But the point is that your statements are not supported by the facts.

Past Bars = 6
Recent Bars = 4 (with 2 less than a year), and 2 due

Anonymous said...

I agree with the posted numbers that its not just due to the restaurant and bars. I lived on the Main Line where we had more the 5 bars in a 4 block area and things seemed to work out just fine. Maybe some people think that people in Phoenixville can't handle supporting local drinking establishments like people on the Main Line. We have changed the face of our drinking establishments from LoJos to Molly McGuires and they are not one in the same. I realize that drinkers are drinkers but if you go to a bar in our downtown you'll notice they clear out pretty early (weekends being the exception). These folks are not hanging out in the bars until 2 am during a work night and then walking the streets. Good job on the facts.

Anonymous said...

Molly's and Iron Hill are the only classy bars in town. Maybe Columbia if you consider that a bar. Stay away from the Moon Saloon and Tyler James, as they are filled with your stereotypical PVillians. The drunks don't bother me because I know the PVille keystone cops are out and about on their bicycles and will get them outta here.

Anonymous said...

This is turning into a weird bar blog but Tyler James is a fine bar. There are some (only a few) bar fly's in there but they seem to be nice. The food is actually really good and Steve the owner does a great job of keeping it clean in there. The Moon Saloon is just a younger crowd but are also nice folks with a good business. I assume that guy would like to see The Phoenix Tavern come back (now that was bad). Otherwise these are fine bars.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing "fine" about the Moon Saloon.

So minor league baseball in Phoenixville ... yeah, not going to happen. A lot of things would need to be built and changed first.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, a lot of things need to be changed first, like your attitude "anonymous 10:38pm". It's people like you that bring this town down a notch and attitudes like yours need to be relieved. We may not get a baseball team in town but there is a punchers chance. With your attitude we wouldn't even be in consideration (hence, no shot). We have the dream and thats more than you have. I actually feel sorry for people like yourself (dreamless and lifeless). Since you know more than most folks about our odds to acquire a team maybe you should come up with a better solution. Or better yet maybe you can do something that would add value to the town rather than just adding to the complaint list. Get in line because your in a long line of folks that need to leave our great town. Bye bye!

Anonymous said...

I agree, I think that joker needs to leave town with that attitude. I find it funny how people like him/her are so vocal and have their negative opinions, yet they do nothing in town. Instead of saying "hey, I don't think a baseball team is attainable in its present format so I'm gonna do X & Y to make it more attainable". He'd rather just sit back and do nothing. We need more doers and less of these complainers in town. I see them scattered all over these local blogs and it reeks of partisan politics. Old saying: "You can't hit a homerun without being in the batters box". Right now we're in the batters box but if MR DREAMLESS was in charge we wouldn't even step up to the plate to take a swing. I also feel sorry for that guy (lifeless and dreamless is the perfect description).

Anonymous said...

Lifeless and dreamless is great. He had nothing to add except to spew his poor self image onto this blog. I think the baseball team is a great dream to pursue. Obviously we know that the chances are against us but with comments like that its just disheartening. He obviously has no "base-balls".

Anonymous said...

Has this idea been completely scrapped? Anyone heard anything about this since 2008?!?!

Still hoping we get that stadium and would love to see that ferris wheel go up one day.

Anonymous said...

i think the project is a go.