Ripken open to other locations for stadium

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After lobbying for years to bring baseball downtown and relocate the Augusta GreenJackets’ home field at a new multipurpose entertainment complex at the downtown riverfront Georgia Golf and Gardens property, the team’s owners now are open to exploring other locations. 

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Conceptual drawings of a downtown stadium show an outfield backing up to the river, office and condo buildings, and a steamboat-shaped restaurant at the levee level.  Special
Special
Conceptual drawings of a downtown stadium show an outfield backing up to the river, office and condo buildings, and a steamboat-shaped restaurant at the levee level.

“In an ideal world, the Golf & Gardens would work, and could work, but there are still plenty of barriers there, and we owe it to the community and ourselves to consider all site possibilities,” said Jeff Eiseman, vice president with team owner Ripken Baseball Group.

The response denotes a shift in focus for a group that seemed to have its heart set on downtown. Mayor Deke Copenhaver, long a champion of the project, three years ago presented a plan for the stadium complex to the Georgia Properties Commission, which oversees management of state assets such as the 17-acre former botanical garden.

At the riverfront site once intended to house the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, the proposal was to build a $38.7 million stadium complex, including condominiums and restaurants, through a public-private partnership between Augusta, Ripken Baseball and Jacoby Development, who developed the $2 billion Atlantic Station in midtown Atlanta.

Since then, there has been little visible movement by the Properties Commission toward its auction of the golf hall site besides announcing a minimum bid price of $2.8 million, while community reaction to building a new stadium has been mixed. A 2010 straw poll taken on the Richmond County Democratic Party ballot found 77 percent opposed to spending public money to replace the GreenJackets’ current stadium, and 66 percent seeking a referendum if public money is used to develop the former golf hall site.

At the time, Copenhaver dismissed the straw poll results, but Augusta commissioners voted earlier this month to place a stadium referendum on the 2012 general election ballot. The outcome of such a referendum to finance or otherwise fund a stadium project would be binding on the commission.

Then last week, the commission voted 6-3-1 to develop a “transaction plan, not site-specific” for the “proposed Ripken Multipurpose Stadium,” and Administrator Fred Russell said he is setting up meetings with city facilities, recreation and finance personnel to determine what kind of facility the city needs and what financing options would be available.

The vote was a tough one for Commissioner Grady Smith, who previously stated he was opposed to any public involvement in construction of a new stadium. Smith said afterward he would entertain any proposal, but ultimately would oppose the project if the cost to taxpayers was too much.

“If the numbers don’t look right, then bing, sorry, end of conversation,” Smith said.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said that while his south-Richmond County constituents remain opposed to a new stadium going anywhere but the south side, he too was open to exploring the options.

Ripken and Jacoby haven't openly indicated where else might be a suitable location, but as commissioners Matt Aitken and Joe Jackson revived conversations on the issue earlier this month, Aitken said sites on I-20 in Augusta were on Ripken Baseball’s radar. Commissioner Jerry Brigham said a site near a major thoroughfare – I-20, Bobby Jones Expressway – was desired.

That would leave a handful of options inside Richmond County, including the privately-owned, 115-acre Village at Riverwatch at I-20 and Riverwatch Parkway near the Columbia County and South Carolina lines, where Costco is breaking ground Thursday on a membership warehouse club. 

The Village at Riverwatch is within a tax allocation district, where the commission and school board agreed to forgo new property tax revenues resulting from development at the site, and to return $10 million in sales taxes collected there to developers.

Other potentially suitable sites include McKnight Properties' large tract near Carmax on I-20 at Wheeler Road on the Columbia County line, or Nixon Trusts' 40 acres at I-20 and Walton Way Extension.

Should developers venture away from the interstate, Commissioner Bill Lockett and others have suggested placing the complex at the former Regency Mall on Gordon Highway, but the vacant mall has a price tag of more than $50 million. While city officials have suggested condemning the site for public use, Georgia law doesn't allow condemnation for economic development.

If the GreenJackets' current home at Lake Olmstead Stadium, a facility that was rebuilt and expanded in 1995, developers of Augusta's newest master plan have an idea for the 14.7-acre tract. Revitalization of the Upper Broad Street area includes development of high-rise, luxury apartments nearby and the restoration and expansion of Olmstead Park.

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tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 06/27/11 - 01:20 am
0
0
IF... a new park is ever

IF... a new park is ever built...

Do it RIGHT and put the thing on the river as it is by far the best location for a facility like this in the area. VAR would be a distant second...

Brad Owens
4119
Points
Brad Owens 06/27/11 - 05:56 am
0
0
"community reaction to

"community reaction to building a new stadium has been mixed.."

The Mother of all understatements.

Brad

Brad Owens
4119
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Brad Owens 06/27/11 - 05:43 am
0
0
Sure would be nice if they

Sure would be nice if they did this for everyone, "The Village at Riverwatch is within a tax allocation district, where the commission and school board agreed to forgo new property tax revenues resulting from development at the site, and to return $10 million in sales taxes collected there to developers..."

The Mayor mentioned this deal, so I think this is how they will try to do it.

"Revenue neutral" as they try to put the whip cream on this...

Brad Owens
4119
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Brad Owens 06/27/11 - 05:49 am
0
0
HERE IS WHAT I SAID WAS THE

HERE IS WHAT I SAID WAS THE REASON BEHIND THIS....

And I was RIGHT again!

"GreenJackets' current home at Lake Olmstead Stadium, a facility that was rebuilt and expanded in 1995, developers of Augusta's newest master plan have an idea for the 14.7-acre tract. Revitalization of the Upper Broad Street area includes development of high-rise, luxury apartments nearby and the restoration and expansion of Olmstead Park..."

So there you have it, the stadium MUST be moved so all the property there at the wonderful Lake Olmstead Stadium can be "re-developed"

I KNEW it! I just KNEW IT!

Brad

Riverman1
79823
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Riverman1 06/27/11 - 06:59 am
0
0
Hey Brad, I bet they will

Hey Brad, I bet they will keep that part quiet and keep up the front that the old stadium will be given to ASU and the state to maintain. But don't forget, something is probably up around the GGHOF site with Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman standing to make a significant gain.

Brad Owens
4119
Points
Brad Owens 06/27/11 - 07:00 am
0
0
RM1, I knew that there was a

RM1,

I knew that there was a real motive and it wasn't what was stated.

Also, you know how Deke cannot go against ANY opinion from ANYONE, so his behavior has been not only out of character on this, but dawn right bizarre.

Deke going sgainst a majority of the community? Must be a REAL good reason huh? Well here you have it.

The CABAL strikes again!

Brad

seenitB4
81908
Points
seenitB4 06/27/11 - 07:03 am
0
0
I think many are reading

I think many are reading "our"comments.......:)

Riverman1
79823
Points
Riverman1 06/27/11 - 07:05 am
0
0
If I were Ripken and wanted

If I were Ripken and wanted to build a new multipurpose stadium, I'd build it up I-20 across the county line and let Columbia County help. Trying to jam this thing in downtown makes no sense. Building off I-20 they could have a huge parking lot in a very safe area, bringing in affluent Columbia County residents, plus those who live up and down the interstate. Columbia County businesses would be much more likely to advertize with them, too. The huge difference in the per capita income of the two counties is too much to ignore.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 06/27/11 - 07:49 am
0
0
Okay I have a question. Just
Unpublished

Okay I have a question. Just who do you think will wind up buying these condos? It won't be your average citizen. This will wind up being another Port Royal on the taxpayer's dime.

seenitB4
81908
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seenitB4 06/27/11 - 08:03 am
0
0
"Open to other

"Open to other locations"......might as well be if you want the dang thing!

Iwannakno
1533
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Iwannakno 06/27/11 - 08:06 am
0
0
Well I know where they can
Unpublished

Well I know where they can put it lol

seenitB4
81908
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seenitB4 06/27/11 - 08:11 am
0
0
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolray_Field

Yep....we were talked into a ballpark too.....so far it hasn't lived up to the big profits that were predicted.....also the economy tanked....mixed reaction here.....some like it/some don't.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 06/27/11 - 08:11 am
0
0
The view that a park on the

The view that a park on the river would give you is simply unmatched anywhere in the area...no contest. It is the difference between land locked parks everywhere, and the seriously superior PNC (Pittsburgh- most beautiful park view in the nation) or San Francisco parks.

Luxury high rise at Lake Olmstead? SERIOUSLY? You have a not too attractive graveyard on one side, public housing (and all that goes with it) on the other, and a big pond that is unfit for human use (swimming).

What dingdong thinks that is a good idea?

OH...and is it true that South Augusta says NO to the stadium UNLESS it is put in their backyard? That is certainly telling...if it is true...first I have heard of that.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 06/27/11 - 08:17 am
0
0
Austin wasn't there an offer
Unpublished

Austin wasn't there an offer years ago to give the ball team the land for free if it was built in South Augusta? Wasn't it stated then that the ballpark was gonna be built downtown no matter what?

Brad Owens
4119
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Brad Owens 06/27/11 - 08:22 am
0
0
As far as I can tell,

As far as I can tell, everyone seems to be missing the point here;

WE DON'T NEED A NEW STADIUM!!! Period.

This is a bad idea and terrible timing. I wish the mayor spent more time worried about the 10million dollar shortfall the County has than helping Ripken baseball get a new stadium we cannot afford and he doesn't need.

We cannot afford this, and we don't need it.

You all keep your eye on the ball here, pun intended.

Brad

seenitB4
81908
Points
seenitB4 06/27/11 - 08:28 am
0
0
Brad.....Evidently you don't

Brad.....Evidently you don't understand......what you NEED & what you are going to get........when did need come in to play......with the right "grease".....anything will slide down the throat. :)

jackson2010
0
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jackson2010 06/27/11 - 08:35 am
0
0
Is Augusta a bunch of 90 year

Is Augusta a bunch of 90 year olds? Change is a good thing people! Do you really, honestly think that Augusta is a fun place to live? I come from Chattanooga where there was NOTHING downtown, we built a ballpark and now we have one of the best downtown areas in the entire state of TN. Ask the residents in Greenville, SC or Greensboro, NC as well....

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 06/27/11 - 08:39 am
0
0
When your 10 million in the
Unpublished

When your 10 million in the hole and you need more police officers and the economy is in the tank a new ballpark is a terrible idea!!

dichotomy
30828
Points
dichotomy 06/27/11 - 08:40 am
0
0
Is someone passing out bribes

Is someone passing out bribes to a few of our commissioners or have they just lost their collective mind? Will SOMEBODY please drive a wooden stake through this thing's heart.

My house payment has gone up for 4 times in 4 years because of property tax increases. They either raise the tax rate or the property valuation every year. Either way the taxes go up and the house payment goes up. It just went up another $35 a month due to last years "valuation", and I use that term lightly because it has nothing to do with the property's actual value. Well, part of it was the outrageous fee we are charged for garbage collection. I haven't had a raise in 4 years. But they want to take MY money and spend it building Cal a stadium and then give him some tax incentives. The ruling class who own all of the surrounding property on Reynolds St. are salavating. Meanwhile, I can't get a cop to come if I have a problem, I have to carry a weapon while cutting my grass, and the mosquitos are eating me alive and the county can't afford to spray. Our commissioners cannot solve one, not one, problem that faces this county but they can always seem to come up with a majority to agree to spend our money to benefit the ruling class that own's all of the property down by the river and to throw a few bribe projects over toward Laney Walker to get a vote or two.

And Commissioner Guilfoyle, I suggest you explore the option of not being a commissioner very long. You've quickly fallen right in with the rest of them and donned your clown suit. They must have a garbage can or something down there where you have to deposit your common sense before being sworn in as a commissioner.

Brad Owens
4119
Points
Brad Owens 06/27/11 - 08:47 am
0
0
jackson2010, Would you

jackson2010,

Would you support taking THAT stadium you are proud of and building another one just because the team says they want it?

I have no problem with change, I have a problem with a city that is broke, that is being forced to cut back public safety during an period of increased crime and cut services while spending 40million n a stadium we don't need.

We already have a great stadium. It is highly rated aby every site that rates minor leauge stadiums. don't think so? Google "Laje Olmstead Stadium Augusta Gerogia Reviews" and find me a bad review. I challenge anyone to find a bad review.

Although Lake Olmstead Stadium (LOS) is the smallest out of 16 stadiums in the leauge, it is ranked 5th in attendance and 1 in concession profits. So why not help make the one we have better?

So, thanks you for your imput but we cannot afford this and we don't need it.

I happen to think all we need is a little L.O.V.E. (Lake Olmstead Venue Edification) and it will not cost 40mil to make our already good stadium great.

Show some L.O.V.E. will you?

Brad

jackson2010
0
Points
jackson2010 06/27/11 - 08:49 am
0
0
It sounds like dichotomy must

It sounds like dichotomy must have lost in the commission race this past year haha

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 06/27/11 - 08:55 am
0
0
No it sounds like he lives
Unpublished

No it sounds like he lives here and pays taxes (high taxes and a garbage tax) and it sounds like you have no clue how politics work in our area.

seenitB4
81908
Points
seenitB4 06/27/11 - 09:02 am
0
0
jackson....Do you live in

jackson....Do you live in downtown Augusta? Pay taxes in Richmond county??

noway
201
Points
noway 06/27/11 - 09:13 am
0
0
Dichotomy, if our commission

Dichotomy, if our commission and other politicians would quit giving such large tax breaks to corportations, businesses and developers, our property and income taxes wouldn't need to keep going up. Why is it ok to subsidize businesses that are making so much money off of all of us? Why are the individual taxpayers taking the brunt of the downturn? I'm sick of it.

Brad Owens
4119
Points
Brad Owens 06/27/11 - 09:15 am
0
0
jackson, That is not Butch

jackson,

That is not Butch Palmer if that is what you are thinking.

Brad

Brad Owens
4119
Points
Brad Owens 06/27/11 - 09:27 am
0
0
noway, those companies create

noway,

those companies create jobs, but they should have it in balance. Cosco got a super duper deal for about 100 jobs.

Lets say that those people all make $100,000 a year and all live in RC and spend 100% of their income...say... ($75,000) in RC, that would only equate to about $5250.00 in sales tax. And lets assume they live in a house where they pay $1500 per year in property taxes, that is an additional $150,000.00.

So it would take us about 75 years to get the 10 million in just the slaes tax break back.

Now, lets say that a lot of folks shop there, we still lose that 10 mil.

Brad

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/07/11 - 10:26 am
1
0
How about showing the South

How about showing the South Side some respect.
Will the persons or land syndicate that needs to make quiet untold profits on the baseball park land deal, please purchase some of the 100's of thousands of acres available in Southside and move it here. We more than meet the needs with; I-520, US 1, US 25, GA 56 and the Airport for access, lots of green space for realistic parking space and all waiting for development now. Plus easy access for the West Siders.

Besides, if it is really about putting fannies in the seats, and not about political and private lands deals, we have more serious sports fans here than the rest of Augusta, even though we only wear blue jeans and clean t-shirts to games, instead of Dockers and Izod golf shirts.

More than likely its not the team that wants a new stadium, its the team owners / landowners at the new location that do.

seenitB4
81908
Points
seenitB4 06/27/11 - 09:42 am
0
0
Open curtain.......you make

Open curtain.......you make sense.....shirts with "SHOW THE SOUTH SIDE SOME RESPECT".....would sell like hot cakes!

Pops
7056
Points
Pops 06/27/11 - 10:42 am
0
0
If Ripken wants a new stadium

If Ripken wants a new stadium put a condition on him. Upgrade the team to double or triple A. Low A class is the lowest classification of full season minor league ball with most players in their first full year of pro ball. The population of the surounding counties (Aiken-Richmond-Columbia) would justify a higher classification of minor league ball here.

Riverman1
79823
Points
Riverman1 06/27/11 - 10:58 am
0
0
"The population of the

"The population of the surounding counties (Aiken-Richmond-Columbia) would justify a higher classification of minor league ball here."

You're way off on that.

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