June 22, 2008 editorial: If E'town builds it, they will come

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ISSUE: Field of Dreams OUR VIEW: Progress, please

By The Staff

As of now, the Field of Dreams sports complex is living up to its name — it is a dream in the field.

A dream that one day there will be a number of baseball and soccer teams visiting Hardin County playing weekend tournaments, staying in our hotels and eating out. Maybe even taking in a little shopping between games.

But for now, the Field of Dreams project has yet to have its first pile of dirt turned or a plan completed. That’s disappointing given Elizabethtown’s need for more fields to accommodate league and tournament play.

Land is at the heart of the most recent delay. The city needs more of it to build the complex it wants — one that can accommodate the numbers of teams and players required to make it a success.

Still, shouldn’t planners of this proposed complex known long ago, perhaps in January of 2006 when a group was hired to create a master plan, what would be needed?

Eric Brandenburg, chairman of the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau, sees Field of Dreams as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Elizabethtown to make its mark in the world of competitive sports tournaments. He’s right on that and maybe a step back to make sure the city gets what it needs is the way to go.

But so far, there has been only talk about the complex. There needs to be some progress and soon. The longer the delay, the more the cost climbs.

While a new master plan and a search for additional acreage continues, residents who dine in Elizabethtown are charged an additional 2 percent on their meals.

When the restaurant tax was launched last October, most of the revenue was to finance the athletic complex. Nearly nine full months later, tax money has been earmarked mostly for renovations of the Historic State Theater. A worthwhile endeavor, for certain, but not one that will pump the kind of tourism dollars that should come when you bring in a flood of out-of-town baseball, softball and soccer teams.

Those who opposed the tax are adding to their ammunition as the project slowly moves along.

Without question, Field of Dreams will benefit Hardin County when it is completed. But what is needed now is some action.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.