Let me draw you a picture for a moment.
Drive to downtown Sandusky in the spring and summer, say, near Battery Park.
Waiting for you is a 4-to-5,000-seat stadium nestled nicely along Lake Erie, home to a professional baseball team. A view from home plate could feature the nation's top-notch amusement park -- Cedar Point -- in the backdrop across the Lake.
Boaters could dock next to the stadium, or perhaps if the logistics were right, hang out and wait for home runs to splash into the water -- a scene familiar at Major League Baseball stadiums in San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
Or just picture taking your family to a baseball game within a few minutes of your home, enjoying an affordable night out as a family with some hot dogs, peanuts and cold drinks.
It all sounds great, right?
That is where things stand in 2011 in regards to comments made by Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee on Wednesday, hinting at informal talks of putting a baseball team in Sandusky.
It sounds really great, but for right now, it is what it is: Talk.
Before the league's All-Star Game Wednesday held in Avon -- home of the Lake Erie Crushers -- Lee said he's fielded calls from people about an expansion team right here in Sandusky.
The Frontier League is independently-based, with no affiliation to an MLB team. For those who have been to a Lake County Captains (Single-A Indians' affiliate) game in Eastlake, the talent level in the Frontier League is generally considered equal to that of a Low-A team in the minors.
Through two-plus seasons, the early returns on the success of the Lake Erie Crushers has been very positive in Avon. Attendance has held steady, as through 75 home games in 2010 and this season, the Crushers have drawn 223,575 fans.
That's an average of 2,981 fans coming through the turnstiles on a nightly basis at the 5,000-seat All-Pro Freight Stadium over a two-year sample.
On top of that, the 3-year old venue allured not only the All-Star Game this season, but beginning next year it will feature the Mid-American Conference baseball tournament.
Between the eight-team field of players, family and friends, the MAC tournament alone will bring hundreds of overnight guests to Avon. The All-Star Game filled up 300-to-400 hotel rooms this week in the Avon area.
That adds up to a good share of extra revenue for the city of Avon when considering not only the hotels, but other amenities. Obviously summer tourism is a huge stake of the Erie County economy with Cedar Point and waterparks such as Kalahari and Great Wolf Lodge.
Factor the out-of-town visitors, not to mention more jobs to a region already known for producing top-flight baseball talent, and you could have a match made in heaven.
Well, as is the case with any notion of having something built today, it's not that easy. One has to look no further than American Legends Park, a proposed youth baseball complex across from Kalahari on U.S. 250.
The drawings show a small stadium, four tournament fields, a practice area, batting cages, and amphitheatre and even a facility to house the players.
Sounds great, right?
But after years of hype and promises to the community, the project is still a no-go with acres of vacant land. In no surprise, the project is indefinitely on hold because of a lack of funding.
Another example to draw from was the big Marina District project a few years ago. The area is a rumored spot off 1st Street for a potential Frontier League team. The drawings looked great, the idea seemed even greater, but when it came time to move forward, the developers were unable to deliver and here we are several years later with no changes to the area.
While we have a professionally-based NASCAR Trucks shop in the area with ThorSport racing, it was privately funded. Given past history, it's a safe bet that a baseball stadium with the public picking up much of the bill won't be well-received in the current economic climate.
Certainly the addition of a downtown ballpark has many positives, and I'm sure some negatives too depending on your viewpoint. But like anything today, it will all go back to the funding. The economy dictates what can be done and, unfortunately, recent history with some larger-scaled projects haven't panned out.
But with the success of the Crushers in Avon, certainly the idea has to turn some people's heads downtown one would imagine. Despite the proximity, I think it's well-established enough to say a team in Sandusky wouldn't cut too deep into the Crushers' fan base.
However, as I sit here and look out the window while imagining a cozy little stadium off the Lake, it's fair to say the idea itself isn't even in infancy stages.
There aren't any plans for ownership that we know of, no concrete statements from the Frontier League saying it would add a team here, and certainly no renderings of a stadium.
For now, it's just something for us to talk about on lunch break at work, or over dinner at home.
But it sounds great, doesn't it?