Ballard blasts cricket field critics

(WISH Photo)
(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard says Democrats on the City-County Council are demeaning minorities with their continued criticism of a $5 million park project including cricket fields that he’s championed.

As Democratic council leaders outlined a $340 million city infrastructure plan at that park on Wednesday, Councilman Zach Adamson said their spending proposal would be “cricket-proof.”

The Republican mayor said that such comments are demeaning to someone from India, where cricket is highly popular.

“We are a major city, and we are welcoming international sports here,” Ballard told The Indianapolis Star. “We want to attract top talent to this city. We are essentially saying, ‘You are not welcome here.’ It is incredibly demeaning.”

Democrats have over the past year frequently questioned Ballard’s decision to push the cricket fields project rather than using the money on road repairs or hiring police officers.

Adamson said he was “amazed” at the mayor’s reaction and that it was “demeaning to think that Indians and anyone else aren’t smart enough to know we are talking about wasteful spending.”

Democrats who control the City-County Council have blocked Ballard’s proposed spending of $350 million on road repaving and other infrastructure projects, saying they don’t like the $150 million in borrowing included in the plan that would cost the city about $90 million in interest payments over 30 years.

Democrats said their infrastructure proposal will have the city borrowing $35 million less than Ballard’s plan — saving $16 million on interest payments.

“By being strategic with our resources, council Democrats have found a way to use more existing funds, borrow less and create a fairer system that ensures no section of the city will be ignored,” Democratic council President Maggie Lewis said.

The Ballard administration withdrew the city last month as host of a national cricket championship slated for this summer, citing deteriorating communications with the USA Cricket Association.

Critics offered that decision as evidence that the field was a boondoggle. But Ballard said cricket was only a small part of the 40-acre World Sports Park on the city’s east side, which will also have fields for soccer, rugby, hurling and lacrosse.

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