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Few comment on $16 million Hammons Field deal at Springfield City Council meeting. But most were in favor of the plan.

Hammons Field February 2023 amid snowfall
Gregory Holman/KSMU
The City of Springfield announced plans to buy Hammons Field on February 1, 2023.

Springfield city leaders recently unveiled a plan to buy Hammons Field and keep the minor-league Springfield Cardinals in town for years to come. City Council heard comments from the public last night and expects to vote on the deal in two weeks.

Just seven people turned out Monday night to share their opinions with City Council about the proposed purchase of Hammons Field. The $16 million tab for the stadium includes $6.5 million for the ballpark, $5.5 million for nearby parking and $4 million in upgrades.

Local business owner Joe Everest said he was a fourth-generation Springfieldian who loves baseball. He shared memories of taking his daughter to Hammons Field.

“I can remember bringing her to her first Cardinals game. We sat up on the grass, it was a great game. They ended up winning, there was fireworks, it was a banner evening for the Everest family.”

Springfield Tenants Unite is a union formed during the pandemic to promote Queen City renters’ shared interests. Two members said they oppose the ball field sale at Monday’s meeting, though they were outnumbered by commenters who like the deal. Alice Barber advocated for more city spending to address poverty and homelessness.

“Now making those things happen costs money," Barber told council. "And the bill we’re voting on tonight shows me that the city has money, we have $16 million of it. So how we choose to spend the money that we have reflects your priorities for Springfield.”

Council members pushed back at the criticisms, with Mayor Ken McClure noting that the city recently allocated more than $12 million federal dollars for homelessness services.

Councilman Craig Hosmer said it’s “embarrassing” to live in a city with Springfield’s elevated poverty level, but he argued the stadium purchase will increase Springfield’s sales tax revenues.

“I’ve got some problems with part of this deal, but purchasing the stadium I think makes good fiscal sense for the city,” he said.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.