- Associated Press - Saturday, March 18, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A new downtown baseball stadium for the Lexington Legends is among the proposals submitted for a nearly 20-acre parking lot across from Rupp Arena.

The stadium is part of a $200 million project that would also include a hotel, three parking garages and mixed-use developments with retail stores on the first floors and residential units on the upper floors, said Lexington developer Phil Holoubek. The project would be built in phases over several years.

Holoubek is the master developer and principal partner in Grand Slam Development, which submitted the stadium-hotel proposal to Lexington Center Corp.

Grand Slam Development is one of five companies that submitted proposals for the High Street lot across from Rupp. Lexington Center Corp. would have have the final decision on which, if any, proposal to accept.

Other developers who submitted proposals were Langley Properties, the Webb Companies, Stark Enterprises of Cleveland and Flaherty & Collins Properties of Indianapolis. Details about their proposals were not immediately available.

Lexington Center Corp. board members Holly Wiedemann, Craig Turner and Ray Ball will conduct interviews with the developers to get more information about their specific proposals.

Holoubek said Grand Slam wants to integrate the stadium and hotel “into the fabric of the rest of downtown Lexington and surrounding neighborhoods.”

“In other words, this won’t be a development that just is plopped in there,” Holoubek said.

The stadium would be surrounded by mixed-used buildings. “Some of those buildings will look directly into the stadium so you can see the baseball games directly from your condo or apartment,” Holoubek said.

The outfield wall would be near the corner of High and Broadway, and “we’ll have a raised berm or grass hill where you can sit for concerts or watch games for a low price from that hillside,” Holoubek said.

The stadium could seat 5,400, which is slightly smaller than the 6,000 seats at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, current home of the Legends. The current stadium on North Broadway, originally called Applebee’s Park, cost $25 million to build and opened in April 2001. The new privately financed stadium would cost about $40 million, Holoubek said.

Asked what would happen with Whitaker Bank Ballpark, Holoubek said that is up for public discussion. “I know that several groups already have ideas for that site,” he said.

A hotel or office building would be on the corner of Broadway and Maxwell Street, Holoubek said. The parking garages would be “wrapped” with first-floor retail and upper-floor residential units, so that the garages would not be exposed to the street. The plan calls for two parking garages in the first phase and a third in another phase.

John Farris, president of Commonwealth Economics, mentioned the stadium and other proposals during a committee meeting before Lexington Center Corp.’s full board meeting Thursday.

Commonwealth Economics advises government entities on financing and private-public partnerships.

Alan Stein, former president and CEO of the Legends, said “there has always been a desire to have a ballpark downtown. That was my plan in the 1990s.”

The Rupp Arena parking lot was considered as a site for a minor-league baseball stadium in 1996 but that idea was ruled out by then-Mayor Pam Miller.

Stein, who retired as president of the Legends in 2011, said a stadium could drive economic development downtown and would complement new businesses in the Distillery District along Manchester Street and the $250 million renovation planned for the convention center attached to Rupp Arena.

Farris said a developer for the High Street project should be selected by the beginning of summer.

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