Portsmouth City Council Hits Brakes on Stadium Plan

Portsmouth City Council

Portsmouth City Council has put a plan to transfer ownership of Spartan Stadium, Branch Rickey Park, and several adjoining softball fields to Shawnee State University on hold. However, council members are still in favor of the idea, they just want more details.  

Under the plan, the university says it planned to restore Spartan Stadium and also upgrade the stadium and adjoining fields into a world-class softball facility.  

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Pastor Tim Roth, who is involved with Portsmouth Little League, expressed concern over the plans. They lost access to two of their five fields while the Army Corp of Engineers worked on the project to upgrade the levy and, under the new proposal, could stand to lose access to another field.  

“What is the city’s plan for Portsmouth Little League?” Pastor Roth also had questions about the university’s statement that local organizations would still have access to the facilities as long as their events didn’t interfere with activities planned by the school and how any construction at facilities would affect Portsmouth Little League.  Roth said he didn’t object to the project; in fact, he thinks it’s a great idea. But he wants more assurances that Portsmouth Little League would be allowed to play.  

Council members also expressed concern over whether transferring the property to SSU would violate the terms of the agreement transferring the property to the city.  

The city solicitor assured members that the ordinance was just a first reading meant to get the idea moving and that more research would go into drafting a final agreement, but it might be some time before all the necessary information was available.  

While council members expressed support for the idea, they agreed it would be a good idea to table the measure until they had all of the legal questions answered and more assurances about how the fields would be used.  

Third Ward Councilman Andy Cole said, “There’s a lot of details we don’t have yet as far as the accessibility and how that would work. That’s legal jargon somebody smarter than me will need to figure out.”  

However, Cole said he believed the transfer is necessary. “Without some kind of external help, the city does not and cannot financially afford to do what needs to happen for this building at all. We don’t have the ability as a city to do that with our income base, with our tax base.” Cole said he was excited about the idea. 

Councilwoman Lyvette Mosely agreed, saying that the city did not have the financial resources to keep up either the park or the stadium.  “I’m concerned about the Little League Field. I hope they can keep it.”  

Council members also said they wanted to hear from SSU’s president about the plans and get more input from the community.  Council members voted to table the measure until the December 4th meeting.

To get caught up, read our original reporting on this important issue.

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