Ripken Baseball has an agreement to sell the Augusta GreenJackets to an investment group, a decision announced in conjunction with moving the team to a proposed development in North Augusta.
Agon Sports & Entertainment, headed by former Ripken Baseball Vice President Jeff Eiseman and Greenstone Properties’ Chris Schoen, will purchase the team with the intention of moving to the Hammond’s Ferry development in North Augusta.
Eiseman said the two groups have agreed on the sale and are awaiting approval by Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball. The sale is expected to be completed in four to six weeks, but Eiseman would not disclose the purchase price.
Ripken Baseball, headed by Hall of Fame player Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Billy, purchased the GreenJackets in 2005 from Mike and Jeffrey Savit.
“We have built wonderful relationships in Augusta and want to see baseball succeed in the region,” Cal Ripken Jr. said in a prepared statement. “The way I see it, we aren’t leaving Augusta, simply changing roles. Multi-purpose development along the river has always been exciting to me and I look forward to the success of our new ownership group.”
The team’s new stadium will be a part of the proposed “Project Jackson,” a large-scale development in Hammond’s Ferry. The proposal has the new park overlooking the Savannah River and sitting alongside the 13th Street bridge.
“We hope to be in the new park for Opening Day in 2015,” Eiseman said. “If everything stays on the timeline, we hope to be playing baseball on the riverfront that year.”
Eiseman said the team will remain the Augusta GreenJackets, although changes will be made with the move across the river. The team will play at Lake Olmstead Stadium until the new park is complete.
“Augusta is a region,” he said. “There are ways to incorporate North Augusta, to pay homage to the area. We aren’t going to tip our hat on that, but we plan to use this team to create a bridge between communities.”
Agon will use a group of “15 to 16 investors,” Eiseman said, based in Georgia and South Carolina. Eiseman said the group will promote not only the baseball team but also other events at the proposed park, hoping to target more than 200 dates a year at the venue.
“We knew Lake Olmstead was not a long-term solution, and we were always looking for a solution at Ripken,” Eiseman said. “We felt what was best for the team in the long term was local ownership, to keep the team here. We want to see baseball succeed here.”
Eiseman said the San Francisco Giants, the team the GreenJackets are affiliated with in the Class A South Atlantic League, have been updated during the negotiations and are excited for the sale and move.
The proposal includes a parking deck for the stadium, in addition to retail stores connected to the outside of the park. During Wednesday’s presentation, Schoen cited new technology in stadium lighting that prevents neighboring houses and stores from being flooded by lights during night games.