While proposal to build minor league park piques city's interest, officials wary of financial risks

Dreams of a minor league baseball park in Windsor came closer to reality Wednesday after the Town Council initiated a study to determine if building a stadium makes economic sense.

While council members expressed excitement at the prospect of having a baseball stadium, they also told proponents of the ballpark that a public-private partnership is not guaranteed.

"The risk factor is one that has to be spelled out," said Mayor Sam Salmon. "It's a terrific project to look at in a feasibility study. We also have to go in with our eyes open."

If Windsor buys the land, entrepreneur Chris Lee of Kenwood said his group, Pacific Baseball Partners, will build a $10 million stadium. He estimates it would attract 275,000 to 320,000 people annually.

"I'm excited," said Councilwoman Robin Goble. "We're being courted, and I think we ought to pay attention to the opportunity."

But she said the key is to have a major league affiliation with a farm team.

"It needs to be part of something bigger that's successful," she said.

Following the meeting, Lee said he's not sure he even made it to first base with the Town Council. "I just dug into the batter's box," he said with a laugh after the council gave him the go-ahead to do a stadium feasibility study in conjunction with town officials. He estimated it will cost $25,000.

Councilwoman Debora Fudge said a ballpark fits with Windsor's image as a family-oriented community.

She said it could be a magnet for tourism and generate hotel stays. But on the negative side, she said it "doesn't provide a lot of jobs per acre."

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