Bill Smart called
August 25, 2006
Just got off the phone with Bill Smart. He was upset over the blog post –
Bill told me that he never said that he didn’t want lights from the baseball park, music from any concerts and the crowds of people using the Community Maritime Park. He denied ever saying making such comments at a Port Royal Cocktail Party.
“I want the Maritime Museum, a destination hotel, condos and retail shops with housing above them. I want about 12 or so acres of green space along the water. I’ve never been against crowds or the Trillium property being used.”
When I asked him why he was against the baseball park. He said that nothing will ever happen at that baseball park, but baseball. It will never be a multi-use park. When I challenged that comment, he shouted that he had done his research and no other events are held in these baseball parks. Of course, I shouted back that wasn’t the truth that we have given hundreds of examples of concerts and other events being held in minor league ball parrks.
Smart said that he hadn’t seen anything in writing or verbal that said that other events would be held in the baseball park. When I said Studer had made such a committment, Smart said that wasn’t good enough.
When I tried to explain to him that Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright had (Montgomery Mayor says Baseball works) told me in person that the baseball park in Montgomery was the catalyst for rebuilding his downtown. It was built entirely with public dollars ($30 million) and has had a host of events. Better yet they’re ahead of schedule on paying off the debt.
Smart would have none of it. We agreed to quit shouting and I listened to him tell that the Montgomery baseball park isn’t on the water. Montgomery is different because of its civil rights history. Then he went on to tell me professional sports don’t work in Pensacola….
When he finished, I got my turn: the Baseball Park is on the Alabama River. The Mayor described high school and little league tournaments held, boy scouts camping in the park, weddings, concerts like Wille Nelson. He said the downtown redevelopment began when the park was approved.
Smart’s reply was that he had heard the City had invested a billion in their downtown. I said I didn’t know that, but it really didn’t matter – Mayor Bright gave credit to the baseball park.
I also said Mayor Bright said that they had researched minor league baseball parks built all over the country in downtown areas over the past ten years and did not find one that wasn’t a success. Not one.
In the end, we agreed to disagree. I agreed to post his statement that he did not make the statements in the Port Royal Cocktail Party Buzz.
Later, I checked with our source for the quote. They stand by their recollection, but I’m willing to say it’s possible someone else made the statements at the Port Royal Cocktail Party.