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Thirty years later, Roger Parent reflects on investment in minor league team

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

Former South Bend mayor Roger Parent put the runners in motion for a baseball stadium in South Bend back in the 80s. Thirty years later, he’s reflecting on how a minor league team has propelled the city into the big leagues.

“I’d like to thank the people who have come here today for the dedication of this stadium,” said former South Bend mayor Roger  Parent, in a speech he gave at the dedication ceremony back in 1987.

Thirty years later, Roger Parent is back, gazing at the spot where he spoke, dedicating the  field, back in 1987.

Then, it was called the Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium, home of the South Bend White Sox.

”I had been thinking about how to redevelop this side of town for all my years. I had been on the city council 8 years. This was my fifth or sixth year as mayor I believe, and I had been looking here,” said Parent.

“I had no idea that a baseball stadium would be brought to my mind, or would come to my attention, I should say, but when it happened, it dawned on me that this was a good thing for this side of town. Not only for this side of town, but for the city, for the region as a whole,” he said.

Turns out, it was a home run.

“It’s funny how controversial this was and difficult to put together,” said Parent.

“The day it opened. It was amazing. People were coming here and saying, well I opposed it, but it’s a great place. It’s a beautiful place,” he said.

That year, 1988, the stadium saw 171,444 fans walk through the front gates.

That number has more than doubled, reaching 350,803 in the 2016 season.

“Some people thought I was hallucinating, probably, but I had a vision, and frankly Mr. Berlin has helped to bring this vision beyond what I had imagined probably,” said Parent.

“There’s a picture of the stadium that was put together at the time that we were just planning it and used it to tell people what it would look like,” he said, showing a booklet from the original dedication.

It does look a little different, but Roger says, “it hasn’t changed a lot in the sense that it’s still the basic facility that we built.”

“So I think it’s an example of what government has to do to enable the private sector to come forth and do what they do best, to create development,” he said.

The South Bend Cubs may be a minor league team, but there’s no denying Roger Parent helped to bring South Bend into the big leagues.

“I think it’s a matter of creating the kind of climate that tells people this city is a good place to be. It’s a city on the move, and come on over,” he said.

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