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Franklin County Commissioners
Franklin County Commissioners set to Close on Sale of Cooper Stadium and Usher in New Economic Era for Historic Franklinton Property
Closing the latest chapter in the eighty-year history of Cooper Stadium, Franklin County Commissioners will vote next Tuesday to finalize the sale of the former baseball park and usher in a new era of economic opportunity for neighborhood businesses and residents.
For the past four years, Franklin County has been in contract to sell the stadium - former home of the County-owned Columbus Clippers baseball team - awaiting a series of actions by the City of Columbus to approve rezoning of the 47-acre complex and several neighborhood and buyer-negotiated contingencies.
On Tuesday, County Commissioners are expected to approve the historic sale of the stadium for $3,425,000 to King Holding Corporation and developer Arshot Investment Corporation, who plans to build an outdoor amphitheater, racetrack and automotive research and development center.
"The sale of Cooper Stadium will bring jobs, renewed economic opportunity, and neighborhood excitement back to this historic Franklinton location," said County Commissioner President Paula Brooks. "Cooper Stadium was a valued County asset for more than three decades, and now is the right time to see it redeveloped for our region's future, with cutting-edge research and electric-powered vehicles in the bustling city center of our County."
"The 80-year history of this stadium is far from over. When we set out to redevelop the Cooper Stadium site, we dedicated ourselves to finding a developer with a concept that would benefit all of Franklin County, particularly those in the nearby neighborhood," said County Commissioner Marilyn Brown, "one which held the promise of putting Cooper Stadium back into an active, vibrant, job-generating use for both residents and businesses."
"When the County bought and renovated Cooper Stadium in the mid-70s, it ushered in a new era of minor league baseball that still benefits the County and its residents today with our success in Huntington Park," said Commissioner John O'Grady. "With this proposed redevelopment, the stadium will serve as a proving ground for new automotive technologies and train our next generation of mechanics and engineers."
The sale of Cooper Stadium on Tuesday is the last of a multifaceted, community-endorsed series of steps to redevelop the property.
In 2005, County Commissioners created the Cooper Alternative Plan committee - a community stakeholder group comprised of Franklinton area business and residents associations, local elected officials and private sector representatives - to study and identify the best alternative uses for the stadium site.
Consideration was given to a number of factors: economic development and job creation potential, regional drawing power, public cost for infrastructure, environmental impacts, traffic, recreational opportunities for the neighborhood, visual and overall impacts to Franklinton and the surrounding area, fair market value, project feasibility, and redevelopment timeline.
Based upon the recommendations of the Cooper Alternative Plan committee, Franklin County entered into a sales contract in the Spring of 2008 with King Holding Corporation and Arshot Investment Corporation. However, the sale was pending based on several contingencies.
In June 2011, the Columbus City Council rezoned the property to open the door for redevelopment, while at the same time addressing a number of community concerns regarding noise and building materials. The rezoning established a stricter design standard and periodic inspection of a proposed sound wall, and required a compliance review to occur one year after the beginning of operations at the site.
Earlier this year, Columbus City Council approved a 10-year, 75 percent property-tax abatement - a final request of the developer who, in return, has proposed a $40 million project to include a racetrack, a research and development center, 8,000 grandstand seats, a conference center, exhibition space, restaurants and a hotel.
With these actions completed, County Commissioners are now moving forward with the sale of the stadium.
The $3.4 million proceeds from the sale will be used to defray some of the construction costs of the new Huntington Park, which opened in 2009 and has been nationally recognized as one of the best baseball stadiums in the country.
This investment by the Franklin County Commissioners is part of the reason Forbes magazine recently listed the County-owned Columbus Clippers as the fourth most valuable minor league baseball team in the nation.