Saturday, October 20, 2007


City has eyes on Cooper Stadium
Columbus seeks to annex 47 acres from township
Saturday, October 20, 2007 3:29 AM
As the Columbus Clippers prepare to move out of Cooper Stadium, their old home might move into Columbus.

The City Council will take up legislation Monday to annex the 47 acres of ballpark, work buildings and parking lots, which have been part of Franklin Township since before the stadium opened in 1932. Annexation also needs approval from Franklin County, which owns the land.

County commissioners put the stadium site up for sale last month, hoping it gets snatched up by private developers with big plans. A proposal backed by Franklinton business leaders, to turn the site into a Harley-Davidson dealership and tourist attraction, fell through this year.

The Clippers will play their last season in Cooper Stadium next year and then move to Huntington Park, which is being built in the Arena District.

In a statement yesterday, Mayor Michael B. Coleman said city government already is involved in projects around the old stadium on W. Mound Street, including the West Edge Business Park and improvements to housing in Franklinton.

"We want to see Cooper Stadium reborn as an asset to the entire community, whether as a site for recreation and tourism or jobs and business development," Coleman said.

Spokesman Mike Brown said annexation will give Columbus a say in the site's future. The city has more experience in urban redevelopment, he said, and will be able to offer tax breaks and other incentives to shape its future.

Cooper Stadium is valued between $3.25 million and $3.7 million. Its tax exemption under county ownership means no taxes for Franklin Township or South-Western City Schools.

Annexation to the city would shut out both -- and benefit Columbus and Columbus City Schools -- just as the property moves into private hands.

"We definitely oppose it," Franklin Township Trustee Tim Guyton said. "We have the same services we need to maintain as everyone else."

Guyton said there's nothing the township can do to stop annexation, though. He said county officials have promised him they will try to broker a tax-sharing agreement with Columbus.

South-Western schools officials weren't available for comment.

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