Evansville is moving forward with its plan to tear down Roberts Stadium and turn the property into Roberts Park. A Vanderburgh Superior Court judge dismisses a lawsuit against the city that attempted to stop the stadium’s demolition. The lawsuit, filed by Alan Brill, asked for a re-study on the property’s best use.
Roberts Stadium is controlled by the Board of Park Commissioners, and because of that, the judge says the court has no jurisdiction over Brill’s lawsuit or the park board’s decision to demolish the building. The ruling reads, “absent a constitutional, statutory or common law basis, this court does not have jurisdiction to exercise judicial review of a local administrative decision.”
The judge says, even if the court had jurisdiction, “evidence and law” call for a ruling in favor of the city. The judge says Brill failed to present evidence that the Park Board’s decisions were unsupported, unlawful or arbitrary. Instead, the ruling says the board’s decisions were, “supported by substantial evidence, a thorough and extensive public process undertaken in good faith and consistent with applicable law.”
The court’s ruling is a big win for the city. “I do believe it was a frivolous lawsuit, but nonetheless, at the end of the day I think the judge made the right ruling,” says Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.
Brill says, “It is a little disappointing after all the effort but you don’t get anywhere unless you try sometimes and you don’t always win.”
Mayor Winnecke says Brill filed the lawsuit after his idea to turn Roberts Stadium into an exposition center wasn’t chosen. “I would consider the city’s resources wasted as a result of this lawsuit. I think it was a frivolous lawsuit,” says Mayor Winnecke. “The fact that Mister Brill’s idea wasn’t chosen — he obviously took great issue with.”
But Brill says that’s not the case. “I’m a business man and I didn’t have time for this [lawsuit],” says Brill. “This was a major sacrifice for me, and it wasn’t frivolously done.”
Brill says he saw new opportunity for the stadium that didn’t involve demolition. He says those ideas were skimmed over by the Roberts Stadium Task Force. “I felt like maybe the process didn’t have maybe the integrity it needed and the disclosure and true involvement,” says Brill.
“Mister Brill was allowed to participate in the process. He did participate in the process as did 100’s of other Evansville residents. So I find his comments a little disingenuous,” says Winnecke.
Brill says he tried his best to stop the demolition of Roberts Stadium. Now that the lawsuit is dismissed, he says it’s time to move on. “I’m not out to keep dwelling on this,” says Brill.
The city is moving on too. Mayor Winnecke says the city is not slowing down its efforts to build Roberts Park on the stadium’s footprint. “I would still like to see that stadium start to come down sometime this fall,” says Mayor Winnecke. The parks board is currently reviewing bids for the demolition of the stadium.