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Evansville debates Roberts Stadium future

Evansville AcesWith a new downtown arena slated to open next year, Evansville officials are debating the future of Roberts Stadium, a historic arena now slated for a meeting with the demolition crew.

There’s a lot to like about Roberts Stadium, mostly relating to its history as the home of the University of Evansville athletics. Expanded over the years, it has an intimate atmosphere (12,500 seats) that also makes it popular for high-profile concerts as well; Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley are playing there in coming months.

That intimate atmosphere — i.e., a low ceiling and limited options for expansion — may end up hurting the arena in the long run, as the new downtown arena, it seems, is poised to push Roberts Stadium out of the market. Roberts Stadium can’t handle hockey — the CHL’s Evansville IceMen play at a much smaller facility (Swonder Ice Arena) because of this — and larger acts requiring more ceiling capability are forced to bypass the Evansville market.

The current plan is to tear down Roberts Stadium and replace it with amateur baseball fields. It won’t be cheap to demolish the place — over a million dollars — but unless someone steps forward with a realistic plan to re-use the facility, it sounds like the arena’s future is dim.

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