Kokomo unveils plans to stem flooding, build baseball field

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City leaders Monday announced plans to build a big sports venue while also making ground improvements to stem regular flooding along the Wildcat Creek.

The creek is a flood plane area, which was particularly ravaged by a 100 year flood in 2013.

"All the cars were flooded out. It was all the way up to the roof of the houses. It was pretty bad," resident Kyle Bailey remembered as he walked through the old neighborhood.

The city has since bought most of the 25-40 homes in the downtown flood plain. Instead of rebuilding, though, the city will invest $11.5 million to transform the area.

"The goal has been to end the cycle of personal loss of a scare witnessed last year and to re-purpose the land for a productive and safe use," Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight told a small gathering in the city council chambers.

The city of Kokomo opted for a new downtown baseball stadium.

"Little did we know that these two needs - the need for comprehensive flood mitigation and the need to reestablish a first class baseball facility - would eventually lead to one of the largest downtown development projects in downtown history," Goodnight said afterwards.

The first $2.5 million will go toward flood mitigation, including detention ponds in a 14 acre area, with another $9 million for construction of the new stadium.

According to Mayor Greg Goodnight, "The project will begin to improve the capacity and the conveyance of the Wildcat Creek downstream from the site. So while we are announcing an ambitious plan to address flooding in the city and build a modern baseball stadium, I believe that it will be much more than that. This facility will be the cornerstone of the modern, aesthetically pleasing venue that will provide Kokomo residents and the region with a premiere multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue."

Besides dealing with downtown flooding and the need for a new baseball stadium, there is a third reason for this project. The hope is this will mean economic development for the city of Kokomo.

When complete, it will be the first new baseball stadium built in Kokomo since 1955. The old venue, Highland Park Baseball Stadium, was once home to the Kokomo Dodgers which was a minor league team for the then-Brooklyn Dodgers.