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Stadium plan in question

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Even though a motion passed Tuesday to ask voters in next year's general election if they want a new downtown baseball stadium, that's not something the Augusta Commission legally can do.

Commissioner Alvin Mason's motion had the support of six commissioners, including Matt Aitken, who originally asked the body to authorize "exploring options" for city participation in a $38.7 million stadium-shopping-condominium complex on the Savannah River.

But Georgia law does not allow straw vote questions to go on the general election ballot, Richmond County Elections Director Lynn Bailey confirmed Wednesday.

"The only thing the commission or other governing authority can put on a ballot would be binding issues, such as a bond referendum," Bailey said.

The only opportunity to place nonbinding questions on any ballot in Georgia is in the party primaries, she said.

And since the Richmond County Democratic Party already asked voters about the stadium issue on last July's party primary ballot, it's unlikely to do so again, party Chairman Lowell Greenbaum said.

"It was clear that 70 percent of the people rejected it," Greenbaum said. "The idea that this will be on the ballot, unless the Republicans put it on, will not happen."

Greenbaum said voter support for a performing arts center in the same 2010 primary straw poll ought to be heeded as a way to increase Augusta's "coolness" factor, a need expressed Monday by Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz.

"We have no opera; we have a symphony that doesn't have a home," Greenbaum said. "The point, I believe, is that the baseball stadium at this point is dead."

Richmond County Republican Party Chairman Bob Finnegan couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday, but immediate past Chairwoman Sherry Barnes said she doubted the party committee would be receptive when she raises the issue at a party breakfast Saturday.

"Right now, because of the fiscal responsibility that we're all under -- trying to save as much money as possible -- I don't see how the taxpayers could go and foot another bill," Barnes said.

Aitken, whose District 1 includes both the Milledge Road stadium and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame property, maintains that until the city explores the funding options, it can't dismiss the stadium proposal.

Augusta GreenJackets owner Ripken Baseball Group "has been here five years," Aitken said. "They like Augusta's charm, they like their fan base, they like the people in Augusta. I think we owe them the opportunity to just look at it."

Ripken and Jacoby Development also are open to exploring options for a stadium complex at another location in the city's new tax allocation district on Interstate 20 at River Watch Parkway, he said.

A Costco will become the tax district's anchor store when it opens in November.

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Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 02:17 pm
0
0
Make it a binding bond

Make it a binding bond referendum.. put the dang thing on the ballot and let the voters settle it once and for all.. and don't worry, it will go down in flames.. but it won't cost anything to put it on the gen election ballot. If its such a great idea then put it before voters as a bond question and see what happens.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 06/08/11 - 02:21 pm
0
0
Jerry was right.

Jerry was right.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/08/11 - 02:22 pm
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0
I thought thats how it

I thought thats how it worked.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 06/08/11 - 02:34 pm
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most people and almost all
Unpublished

most people and almost all people who don't own a bar downtown don't want a new stadium. these stadiums are generally seen as a money pit which is why unwilling taxpayers are the only buyers. if it makes money, let cal ripken buy it. is he really threatening to leave again? didn't he promise to stay forever if we built him the lake olmstead stadium? how many ponies does he need and is it even his birthday?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 02:37 pm
0
0
yes Taylor.. it has to be a

yes Taylor.. it has to be a "binding" referendum to be on the gen election ballot.. NO problem with that. Make it a binding bond question. I trust the wisdom of the voters much more on this issue than I do The commission or Russell. And at least it will settle the issue once and for all. Or there could be some effort to get both Republicans and Democrats to put this as a straw poll question on next years primary ballot (actually, it would only be necessary to put on the republican primary ballot since democrats did this last year). But I think a binding referendum is the way to go on a presidential gen election ballot. In the past Augusta has had the tendency to hold special elections for these sorts of things, costing the taxpayers money and hoping that only the supporters would bother to show up.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 06/08/11 - 02:43 pm
0
0
joe bowles says we don't
Unpublished

joe bowles says we don't waste money on special elections anymore so i definitely look forward to seeing this on the ballot however it fits in the general election. does lynn bailey say it can't be a whatever it has to be? there's gotta be a way to get it on there, right? like for instance the binding bond way. do it. who appoints the election board?

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 06/08/11 - 03:02 pm
0
0
yeah broad street.. it can be

yeah broad street.. it can be a binding bond referendum.. That's how The Billy Barn was settled.. voters rejected it overwhelmingly in a binding bond referendum and that settled the issue, which was very similar to this with the back and forth. But in the case of the Billy Barn, Fred Russell asked for a special election, costing the taxpayers 70K when it could have been put on the gen election ballot with no additional costs. But the idea behind special elections is that unpopular projects stand a better chance of passing in a low turnout election (where it is expected the supporters are more likely to go out of there way to show up).. buit in the case of The Billy Barn, it was resoundly rejected by over 60% of the voters, and the issue was settled once and for all. So I would encourage everyone in RC to call their commissioner and urge them to pass a motion placing this issue on next year's general election ballot as a binding bond referendum (this is the only legal means to allow the voters to have the final say)

Brad Owens
4423
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Brad Owens 06/08/11 - 03:03 pm
0
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The Board of Elections is

The Board of Elections is appointed by both political parties.

Sweet son
10372
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Sweet son 06/08/11 - 03:03 pm
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You know what? Greenbaum is

You know what? Greenbaum is about as "cool" as Dr. Cool! Opera/symphony: poop!

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 06/08/11 - 03:09 pm
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sweet son.. I would say if it

sweet son.. I would say if it were between the two: another ballpark (which we already have a perfectly good one) or a performing arts center (which we don't have one at all).. my choice would be for a performing arts center.. because it would have much more econ. impact and would be more of a draw. BUT I'm not so sure the government needs to be building these things at all. I think when it comes to an arts center, maybe the arts community should aggressively make a pitch for donations.. it worked with The Kroc. Same for a ballpark.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 03:16 pm
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My recollection of the Billy

My recollection of the Billy Barn and TEE Center is why I do not want this punted over to Fred Russell for "open-ended" negotiations. I remember how SPLOST became a a bloated disaster in the fall of 04 because of The Billy Barn.. then Russell turns around and asks for it to be put on a special election ballot the following summer as a bond referendum. It was obvious that Russell was trying to employ every trick he could to get that thing passed.. same with how the TEE Center got out of control. The supporters sent it over to Russell to employ some "creative revenue sourcing" and clever accounting tactics.. that's how we ended up with the $50 million additional to Laney-Walker. So I don't trust sending this over to Russell for any "open-ended" negotiations.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/08/11 - 03:26 pm
0
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I thought the Miller theater

I thought the Miller theater was going to be home of the symphony...

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 03:27 pm
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But mark my words..

But mark my words.. supporters of this boondoggle will do all they can to make sure this doesn't go before the voters directly in a gen election. What they want to try and do is either bury this in a splost, tap out more in hotel-motel taxes (which the tee boondoggle has essentially dried up), or put in in a special election when they hope most people won't show up except their little fan club. (though I think it would fail miserably even in a special election). My inclination is that they want to try and bury this in a splost.. SPLOST is always a convenient tool to use because you can take worthy projects hostage.. by saying oh well, if you don't pass it then all of these needed projects like road infrastructure and drainage will go unfunded and wont happen. That's their MO. And its what I expect they would try and do with Russell, who has done this in the past with other boondoggles like The Billy Barn and The Regency mall pond. That's why it is pertinent that commissioners act now and place this on the gen election ballot as a binding bond referendum.. that way it cannot be buried in splost, taking worthy projects hostage, and it cant drive up the hotel-motel tax any further to the point it makes Augusta uncompetitive. It will also allow voters point blank to have their say on this issue that has been floating around for over 4 years.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 03:30 pm
0
0
Call your commissioners

Call your commissioners today.

SlapShot2
0
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SlapShot2 06/08/11 - 04:42 pm
0
0
I called my commissioner and

I called my commissioner and told him to support the project so thanks for the advice. I was told that its not dead and those they say it is dead are incorrect and to expect to hear about it soon. Why isnt anyone calling out Mason for not know what he can make a motion for or not? Also, Greenbaum and cool in the same sentence, laughable.

What-r-u
0
Points
What-r-u 06/08/11 - 04:46 pm
0
0
I am one that would like to

I am one that would like to see the stadium moved to down town so I will vote yes.

BuckeyeInGA
114
Points
BuckeyeInGA 06/08/11 - 04:51 pm
0
0
Emerydan, what should I call

Emerydan, what should I call them? Seriously, will someone please take me back to the beginning on this issue? What is wrong with the current stadium? Are there specific issues with the facility?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 04:59 pm
0
0
well then I am sure

well then I am sure supporters and non-supporters for a publicly financed stadium should want to see this issue put before the voters in a high turnout election.. so call your commissioners and have them support a binding bond referendum on next years presidential gen election ballot to settle the issue once and for all. That way everyone can voice their opinion on the matter and that should settle it. If it is such a win-win then it should have no problem passing, right?

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 06/08/11 - 05:05 pm
0
0
emerydan, i agree that it
Unpublished

emerydan, i agree that it should go on the ballot as a binding bond issue. what was the wording by the commission that it's not going on that way? did they get so specific as to say "straw vote" or whatever won't work or was it more open than that? it seems to me the board of elections (and daily paper) should be saying the wording needs to be adjusted (if it does) rather than saying it can't go on the ballot. i'd like to hear why this vote can't work to get it on the ballot because if they kick it back for a revote under a new motion, i predict matt aitken will have been coached to vote no next time.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 05:16 pm
0
0
Broad.. if they make it a

Broad.. if they make it a binding bond question with a dollar amount attached then it most certainly can be placed on the gen election ballot. The supporters don't want this to go before the voters, atleast not in a conspicuous way.. because they know it will fail.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 06/08/11 - 05:25 pm
0
0
all right. hold feet to
Unpublished

all right. hold feet to fire. call the commissioners. remind joe bowles he doesn't support special elections. remind matt aitken he thought it was a good idea this week so he should again. remind jerry brigham he doesn't think the stadium's a good idea. call them for real. it's like tarp all over again but local.

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 06/08/11 - 06:02 pm
0
0
Broad, No need to call me as

Broad, No need to call me as I was the only person to vote against the last special election(SPLOST). As for the baseball stadium, it has to be examined through bond issuances and private funding levels before anyone has any idea of the cost, that's what Matt's motion was to explore. Without the financial data this will never make it before the voters.

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 06/08/11 - 06:13 pm
0
0
A mix-use facility is much

A mix-use facility is much diffrent from the regular baseball stadium.. The people who aren't for the idea want the public to think it's just a baseball stadium.. Jim Jacoby is behind the development and he doesn't build baseball stadiums..

There are no condos, hotels, restaurants, and retail shops next to the Lake Olmstead stadium..Developers aren't intrested in investing around the current stadium because it's located next to the housing project.. The current Lake Olmstead stadium can be a gift to the ASU and Paine College baseball teams.. Middle and high school teams can also used the Lake Olmstead stadium... Weddings, outdoor concerts, etc are also great things to have at Lake Olmstead..

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 06/08/11 - 06:06 pm
0
0
Condos, hotels, restaurants,

Condos, hotels, restaurants, and shops next to the baseball stadium overlooking the savannah river.. A year round tourist destination right in the heart of downtown..

Or we can have the vacant lot sitting there for another 5 years on the riverfront...

Easy choice...

Riverman1
83739
Points
Riverman1 06/08/11 - 06:14 pm
0
0
I guess Joe Bowles explained

I guess Joe Bowles explained his view. He is saying BOND ISSUANCES and private funding.

knighttime
1
Points
knighttime 06/08/11 - 06:16 pm
0
0
countyman... I dont want my

countyman... I dont want my tax dollars paying for this. it will be another drain on taxpayers pockets. please name me one tax payer funded project over the last fifty years that has not been a flop.....

knighttime
1
Points
knighttime 06/08/11 - 06:17 pm
0
0
if it is a money maker let

if it is a money maker let private investor do it.. why do we need to waste more tax payers dollars...

Riverman1
83739
Points
Riverman1 06/08/11 - 06:17 pm
0
0
Lake Olmstead Stadium is a

Lake Olmstead Stadium is a booming success. Huge crowds buying lots of junk. It was noted in one national publication as one of the top minor league stadiums in the country. It is not that old. It makes no sense to build another stadium. An empty lot equals greenspace. Augusta Common.

Riverman1
83739
Points
Riverman1 06/08/11 - 06:22 pm
0
0
Joe Bowles said, "Without the

Joe Bowles said, "Without the financial data this will never make it before the voters."

I'd feel a lot more confident the project is dead if he had said it differently. Does that mean if they get the data, the stadium is on?

corgimom
32251
Points
corgimom 06/08/11 - 06:55 pm
0
0
"Condos, hotels, restaurants,

"Condos, hotels, restaurants, and shops next to the baseball stadium overlooking the savannah river.. A year round tourist destination right in the heart of downtown.."

Like Port Royal and Riverwalk? And the Golf Hall of Fame?

Been there, done that, it didn't work. What has changed, other than the economy has gotten much worse since those flops?

At what point will the taxpayers of A-RC DEMAND that Richmond County stop throwing away millions and millions of dollars on these "sure-winner" things that DON"T WORK???

I urge the commissioners to do the morally correct thing, the decent thing, and see how stadiums DO NOT spark revitalization. The only people that get rich in such a deal is developers. They will say anything to make money. I've heard for over 30 years how Moe, Larry, and Curly and Huey, Dewey, and Louie are going to turn downtown around. They make their money and move on- and leave the same blight that they started with.

There are many, many cities in the US that are located on rivers. And there are many, many cities in the US that try to "revitalize" downtown, and after wasting millions of dollars, don't "revitalize" anything except developers' balance sheets.

Then there is this-"The current Lake Olmstead stadium can be a gift to the ASU and Paine College baseball teams.. Middle and high school teams can also used the Lake Olmstead stadium... Weddings, outdoor concerts, etc are also great things to have at Lake Olmstead.."

WHO is supposed to pay the enormous overhead of operating the "free" stadium? Baseball stadiums cost a lot to operate- it's like a golf course, the grounds maintenance costs are crushing and it's hard to make them break even. I think it's amazing that anyone would ever think that thousands of people would come to watch middle school and high school baseball, and pay admission to get in, to cover the huge overhead costs.

This is on top of the deeply struggling school system that doesn't have enough money as it is, and where 84% of its students receive free lunch. Teachers are being furloughed, programs are being cut, positions are being cut, but Countyman thinks that RCBOE should take on more expenditures? For baseball? What? Where is the common sense, the fiscal responsibility, the fiduciary duty in that? Where would the money come from to bus all of those teams all the way to Lake Olmstead and back to their schools?

And what if ASU and Paine College say "thanks, but no thanks, we're happy where we are, we don't have any extra money to run it, either" (because they don't, they are struggling too)? THEN who gets stuck with that white elephant?

This is a perfect example of why A-RC is in such fiscal trouble- it's "here's my pet project, fund it, I'll make money off of it, and I don't care about the taxpayers". A PERFECT example.

I'm coming to Augusta soon. I have business to conduct. I hope that this time, when I drive down Walton Way and Wrightsboro Rd, I won't see lots and lots of empty buildings and abandoned properties that aren't being maintained.

But I won't be surprised when I do.

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