Involving local tax dollars in construction of a new stadium complex for the Augusta GreenJackets remains an option, although the dollars won’t be coming from the city’s general fund, City Administrator Fred Russell said.
Russell said he had another “wide-ranging conversation” Wednesday about the proposal with two representatives from Ripken Baseball Group.
“They understand that there have to be a significant amount of private dollars to make it work,” Russell said, “but they understand the constraints I have about that.”
The constraints include not using general fund tax dollars for the project, but the city’s next referendum on a special-purpose, local option sales tax is too far off to be a potential funding source, Russell said.
The stadium was originally proposed as a $38.7 million rescue for the abandoned former home of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. Ripken representatives have said they prefer the downtown riverfront tract but are open to other locations.
Augusta has seen no movement by the Georgia Properties Commission toward sale of the surplus land, which “has not been eliminated” as an option – “but neither has any site,” Russell said.
Wednesday’s meeting, arranged as a continuation of talks between the administrator and the Ripken Group that began July 1, showed the group remains “committed to the project,” he said.
“Once we get a few of the location issues tied down, I think we’ll talk about funding sources,” Russell said.
The commission voted 6-3 in June to “develop a transaction plan” for a multipurpose stadium complex.
A 2010 straw poll taken on the Richmond County Democratic Party ballot found 77 percent of voters opposed to spending public money to replace Lake Olmstead Stadium, the GreenJackets’ current home, and 66 percent would seek a referendum if public money is used to develop the former golf hall site.