By Ann Marie Shambaugh
The Zionsville Town Council approved spending $10,000 to help put together a proposal explaining why Little League International should choose the town for the relocation of its Central Region Headquarters.
The Zionsville Little League and newly-formed Zionsville Local Organizing Committee are spearheading the effort to land the headquarters, which also would include a baseball stadium. ZLL will match the funds committed by the city.
Some councilors expressed concern that a new stadium would lure ZLL teams away from Lions Park, where they have played for 63 years. Lions Club board member Gene Thompson assured the council that this would not be the case and that the Lions Club board of directors fully supports the effort.
“We’ve enjoyed a special partnership with Zionsville Little League during these years while serving the youth of the Zionsville community,” Thompson said. “We are excited about their effort to relocate (the headquarters) to Zionsville, and we look forward to continuing our special partnerships with them in Lions Park.”
ZLL Board of Directors President Mike Rinebold said space is limited at Lions Park and that a new stadium would improve the situation for everyone.
“It’s no secret (Little League International) is going to own the stadium and they’re going to own the field, that’s why their investment is there,” Rinebold said. “The benefit that will offshoot is additional field space.”
Town Councilor Josh Garrett voted in favor of the measure but said he would not be comfortable with the town being asked to fund a large chunk of the project down the road.
“What is going to be the ask in the (proposal) of the town?” Garrett asked. “In considering we just raised taxes two months ago to pay for public safety, it’s going to be an awfully awkward conversation to say, ‘Hey, we had to raise taxes to pay for public safety, but now suddenly we have a lot of money to contribute to the stadium.’”
Rinebold said he is working to secure corporate partnerships and identify funding options. He is researching another LLI regional headquarters relocation in Warner Robins, Ga., a project that reportedly cost $5.5 million. It included 28 acres on donated land, a stadium field, administration building and four additional fields.
Little League Central Region officials announced in October that they will vacate the headquarters near 46th Street and Mitthoeffer Road in Indianapolis, which includes Stokely Field. Rinebold said the area has become economically depressed since it opened in 1989, with the nearby school closing and dorms falling into disrepair.
Little League is looking at all 13 states in the central region to find the next location for its headquarters. Rinebold said he knows Brownsburg and Plainfield are also seeking to land the project. Interested sites must submit proposals by Dec. 15.