PENSACOLA, Florida — Nestled along the shoreline of picturesque Pensacola Bay, the cozy, sun-splashed Blue Wahoo Stadium been honored more than once for having one of the best views of all Double-A baseball parks in the country.
And there was an idea at one time to build it miles away next to an interstate highway.
Fortunately for downtown leaders and most everyone in this Florida panhandle city that has a similar metro population as Lafayette, Pensacola officials point to the stadium as a crown jewel of downtown, one which attracts large crowds to fill the blue seats to watch the Pensacola Blue Wahoos of the Double-A Southern League.
But nearly 20 years ago that site was home to a fenced off section of land that had been contaminated by the previous creosote treatment plant, said Quint Studer, founder of the Studer Community Institute and who lured the team to Pensacola. Now that park and its popular location has turned into a catalyst for investment in downtown Pensacola.
“Why do you think it’s selected as one of the best stadiums in the United States of America,” Studer said before gesturing with his right hand out to the bay. “It’s location. So I think whenever you look at public dollars, you’ve got to say, where does it fit that it’s going to improve the community around it. You want to put things where there’s some land around it because people want to develop around it.”