Residents would welcome a ballpark at former SMART Paper site

But some question if there might be a better use for the property

Tell us what you think

The Journal-News would like to know what you think about the idea of building a baseball stadium on the former SMART Paper site in Hamilton. Share your thoughts by emailing us a letter to the editor or a Speak Up at You can mail a letter to: Letters to the Editor, 7320 Yankee Road, Liberty Twp., OH 45044. Like us on Facebook to share your ideas there.

A new baseball stadium at the former SMART Paper site might not be a bad idea, some Hamilton residents say.

At the end of June or early July, the remaining buildings of the SMART Paper mill, formerly Champion Paper, on the west side of North B Street excluding the office building, will be demolished. Green Reclamation, a division of Pennsylvania-based industrial scrap and salvage company Moses B. Glick LLC, purchased the mill property on the west side of North B Street from the city in 2011. They are now in discussions with community members and stakeholders about what to build on the property.

One idea in the works is a stadium for the Hamilton Joes summer collegiate league, as well as an indoor sports facility. The proposal calls for the construction of a stadium with around 2,500 to 3,000 permanent seats. It would cost between $7.5 million and $10 million, and take about 30 months to complete, according to Mike Dingledein, co-founder of Community Design Alliance, a community-based architectural firm in Hamilton.

Frances Mennone, executive director for the Great Miami Rowing Center at 330 North B Street and a stakeholder in the talks, said that she’s heard positive reactions about a sports facility and stadium from multiple residents since news of the talks broke.

“People have come to the rowing center asking a lot of questions,” she said. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm for it to happen.”

Robert Miller, a lifelong resident of Hamilton who currently lives in the North End, remembers when the West Side was booming with businesses when the paper mill was running at full force.

“Then they closed the bar down, the businesses all left,” he said. “There used to be a lot of traffic over there. That’s a lot of property over there that they could use.”

He thought that building a stadium on the demolished lot could help bring business back.

“I’ve never been to a Hamilton Joes’ game, but it might bring people to the area,” he said.

Tim Jones, a West Side resident, said that he would frequent the stadium if it were used for other events besides baseball games.

“I think it would be a good idea to bring some money into the city, especially if it were used for other kinds of events, like concerts,” he said.

Denise Herrmann, a 25-year resident of Hamilton who currently lives on the West Side, said she thought a baseball stadium would be “a great thing to have near to downtown.”

“As an ex-Champion Paper employee, it breaks my heart to see it (the mill) torn down,” she said. “But if there were something there to bring people to that part of town, other businesses could come in. People would need to eat somewhere, and if they’re coming from out of town, they would have to stay someplace like the Marriott.”

She was glad that Green Reclamation chose to save the historic office building.

“It’s a reminder of the 120 years that Champion supported the city and had thousands of jobs,” she said.

Reaction from readers on the Journal-News’ website and Facebook page was mixed. While Darrel Grissom, the Hamilton Joes president and general manager, has said that a nonprofit group would be formed to raise money for the project should the stadium plans be confirmed, some people still worried that taxpayer dollars might wind up being spent on it.

“Who will be paying for this boondoggle?” one reader on wrote.

“Don’t know about this one,” Chris Owens posted on the newspaper’s Facebook page.

“How many permanent new jobs does that bring to town? Not like Hamilton needs jobs,” Arley Cope wrote.

Scott Meyer and Margaret Himes said Hamilton has more serious issues to worry about than a baseball stadium.

“Hamilton has empty store fronts downtown, no industry, no Ohio Casualty and they think they need a baseball stadium!” Himes wrote in her post.

But others like Cecil Sizemore said, “Sounds like a good idea.” And Mark Lankford added: “The baseball stadium will spur related development.”

One reader on the newspaper’s website posted the following message: “I just bought my first home down the street from this location and am super excited about the idea of that area being boosted. We have that outdoor music theater now, and all the businesses popping up on that side of the river and now this!”

Another reader wrote, “I think this is a good idea, and if they can do it with all private funding, I think it should happen. It would be a great addition to the riverfront, and I would go…”

About the Author