Binghamton spends $4.5 million more for repairs, upgrades to Mirabito Stadium
The city of Binghamton will borrow more funds for repairs and upgrades to Mirabito Stadium, located downtown. The city council voted last week to increase the bond ordinance from $2.75 million to $7.25 million.
In 2021, the city signed a lease agreement with Rumble Ponies ownership to operate the city-owned stadium.
During a city council meeting in September, David Sobotka, the owner of the Rumble Ponies, said flooding in the stadium “has gone from bad to intolerable.”
“We lost several games last year, not because it was raining at gameday, but because it had rained earlier in the day, and the water had nowhere to go,” Sobotka said. “Not only could we not clear the water out of the stadium, but we actually had water coming back in from Henry Street, including sewage into the stadium.”
Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham said as part of the deal in 2021, the city agreed to handle flooding and drainage issues at the stadium.
“The engineers tell us that we have to find a way to manage the stormwater within the footprint of the stadium, [and] slow down the speed with which it takes to go through the pipes and out to the river, which this project would do,” Kraham said.
However, the resolution to increase the bond ordinance by $4.5 million was met with pushback from residents and some city council members.
Binghamton resident Kenny Brown spoke during the city council’s special meeting on the proposal last week. He argued the lease the city signed with Rumble Ponies ownership in 2021 only requires the city to spend just over $3 million on repairs.
“What would you be thinking if you saw your elected officials continually supporting spending package after spending package against the voice of the community with no end in sight?” Brown said.
During the discussion, several council members in favor of the upgrades said the $3 million outlined in the city’s contract doesn’t include funding for flooding or drainage problems.
Councilwoman Angela Riley said she was unhappy with the contract the city signed in 2021. But she said under that contract, the city is required to address flooding and drainage issues, and she expressed concern over losing the Rumble Ponies as a tenant.
“We're stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Riley said. “If we lose the tenant, we can’t afford, at least based upon what I see here, I don't know how we would afford to maintain that property empty.”
Councilwoman Aviva Friedman said she hopes the repairs can improve not only the stadium, but also the infrastructure in the surrounding area, which has been plagued with flooding issues.
“I think there's a litany of reasons why it doesn't make sense to bond out $7.25 million,” Friedman said. “And I also think that there's reasons why it makes sense to fix the issue at the source.”
All seven council members ended by voting in favor of the proposal.