Downtown Augusta stadium plan gains new life

College merger catalyst for grander plan

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Putting a new twist on an old idea, City Administrator Fred Russell said the impending merger of Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta State University makes construction of a downtown stadium for use by the Augusta GreenJackets even more plausible.

Backed several years ago by Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, a plan to build a stadium at the former Golf Hall of Fame site has seen mixed reactions.  FILE
FILE
Backed several years ago by Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, a plan to build a stadium at the former Golf Hall of Fame site has seen mixed reactions.

"We're not talking about building a baseball stadium with other things; we're talking about building other things with a stadium that complements a growing university," Russell said.

Russell's meeting Friday with GreenJackets' owner Ripken Baseball, Jacoby Development officials and Augusta businessman Ed Presnell at a downtown restaurant was arranged before an official announcement of the merger was made earlier this week, he said.

He and Presnell, however, left a private dining room with a new stadium plan in mind that somehow incorporates the universities.

Augusta has "the infrastructure, momentum and growth potential" to carry the new institution to a higher level, Presnell said.

Details are sketchy about just how the plan would involve the new institution or how a $38.7 million development would be paid for.

GHSU President Ricardo Azziz has cited an interest in developing the state-owned former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame site, but never in terms of sports. Russell said a meeting between Azziz and the Ripken and Jacoby officials would occur later Friday but none did.

The meeting was not on Azziz’s calendar Friday, and other officials knew nothing about it, GHSU spokeswoman Christen Carter said.

The executives did meet with GHSU officials involved in university facilities, Russell said.

Backed several years ago by Mayor Deke Copenhaver, a plan to build a stadium at the former Golf Hall of Fame site has seen mixed reactions. The Augusta Commission initially panned the idea, but voted last year to have Russell meet with Ripken and Jacoby officials to "develop a transaction plan" for construction of a new stadium.

Friday's meeting was a continuation of the direction he received from the commission, now buffeted by news of the merger, Russell said.

Commissioner Matt Ait­ken, for whom Presnell is campaign manager, had lunch Friday with the Ripken executives. Aitken said he was excited about what is happening in his District 1, which spans all of downtown Augusta.

Neither Aitken nor Russell would speak about the specifics of the latest stadium proposal. Ripken officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Russell said the gist of what is in the works is a large, multipurpose stadium complex that includes retail and residential development.

Constructing a larger stadium would "open that up not only for baseball" but also soccer and other tournaments with "people coming from across the country," he said.

"I believe you could probably get a football field in there, is what they tell me,” Russell said.

Azziz denied rumors Thursday that the new university would have a football team, saying, "We're not going to have a football team."

Staff writers Billy Byler and Tom Corwin contributed to this article.

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Riverman1
90847
Points
Riverman1 01/14/12 - 05:24 am
0
0
For the record, the voters

For the record, the voters approved $18 million for the TEE. It's going to end up costing over $100 million with the LW bribe.

The vote against the stadium was only on the Democratic Party ballot. I'm sure if it were on the Republican Party ballot it would have been voted down to an even greater degree. To use the fact it only appeared on the Democratic Party ballot as an indicator it's not representative of the sentiment of the voters is silly...as some posts often are.

Riverman1
90847
Points
Riverman1 01/14/12 - 05:28 am
0
0
I have a feeling Dr. Azziz is

I have a feeling Dr. Azziz is going to tell Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman to go beg for the GGHOF land with the rest of the panhandlers on Broad St. and in the cabal. He has seen the results of their work...the white elephant TEE benefiting Billy Morris more than anyone.

seenitB4
93940
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seenitB4 01/14/12 - 05:41 am
0
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spinks said.. Just how stupid

spinks said..
Just how stupid do Billy, Paul, Deke, Fred, Matt, Ed and "(C)ountyman think A-RC taxpayers are?

answer......very

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 01/14/12 - 08:11 am
0
0
Just because someone doesn't
Unpublished

Just because someone doesn't live in RC doesn't mean they don't own property and pay taxes there. I love the fact that certain posters know what the voters want based on their own opinions. I guess none of those that want it post on this board because I can count on one hand the people that are for it. Someone has a dog in this hunt and his posts prove it. NO TO TAXPAYER FUNDED WANTS OF THE CABAL!! Clean up this dang city first!! By the by, a certain poster keeps going on and on about the TEE center being favored by the voters. What they got is not what they voted on...kind of like consolidation. Smoke and mirrors!!

Tell it like it is
35
Points
Tell it like it is 01/14/12 - 08:46 am
0
0
I hope Disney world will

I hope Disney world will build a new amusement park, Fred could be the clown. Where is this guys head, he always tells us how broke Augusta is but still comes up with these proposals to spend the money we don't have. Look out home owners here it comes again increased home values and more taxes.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
10203
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 01/14/12 - 09:10 am
0
0
Let's see, a parking deck

Let's see, a parking deck that the ownership is still undiscovered, a tee center that will be grossly overbudget, reduced Public Safety Services. I'm glad when looking to buy a home I went to Burke County!!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/14/12 - 09:20 am
0
0
really though, there are

really though, there are opportunities for the city to assert some right to the revenues that will be generated from all of these expansions and developments. I'm confident in that. Could there have been a better initial arrangement for the Parking deck, Tee Center, GnGhof, and Ft. Disc in part? Indeed. Fast forward to the big picture. Bigger economy, more jobs, more activity and involvement, lest we forget tax revenues. The kind of revenues imposed on larger commercial/private operations. If done appropriately, the numbers and effect will eclipse all the negatives.

All these projects are rightful and promising, but going on experience, this city rarely gets the lion's share and most often is left holding the bag and there is a reason for that. IF your take is that the folks running city hall are not making sound decisions, I'd disagree respectfully. Same with Dr. Z (cooler than dr A). I'd be much more inclined to agree with the idea that city hall and the citizens have a history of being status quo but unsatisfied.

That said, who's ready for some baseball. Spring training is oh so close.

allhans
24554
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allhans 01/14/12 - 09:47 am
0
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While other parts of the

While other parts of the country (and world) are concerned about the economy, Augusta ignores the situation and keeps on spending.

AGR354
7
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AGR354 01/14/12 - 10:47 am
0
0
IF you build it they will

IF you build it they will come, but what will they come too. if the stadium would return downtown somewhere that people would come too do it, because tourist will follow.

It would be a great investment

whyme
2070
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whyme 01/14/12 - 11:10 am
0
0
When is Augusta going to open

When is Augusta going to open its eyes and mouth and protest this huge waste of money? Don't we have many more areas which deserve our support? It's not like we have a major league team that is stuck in a tiny stadium overflowing with patrons. It's also not like we don't have any other venues for visiting performers. If the locations we have will be good enough for Elton John, of all people, to come here, then let's not spend a bunch of money, private or otherwise, on a downtown stadium.

markmjtx
0
Points
markmjtx 01/14/12 - 11:17 am
0
0
I have witnessed several

I have witnessed several mergers in my lifetime among business, government and academia. Examine what has happened over the past week. If you must get into the water, exercise extreme caution. Beware of the elements such as rough waters and above all, sharks.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/14/12 - 12:01 pm
0
0
#1. These stadiums DO NOT

#1. These stadiums DO NOT generate revenue. In fact they are money drains. Ask the citizens of Aberdeen, MD how much they are still paying from their general fund to meet debt payments on their Ripken Stadium. And if these downtown stadiums were truly the catalysts for downtown revitalization and tourism as they are hyped to be then downtown Cleveland and Detroit should be the top tourist destinations in America.

Little Lamb
48039
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Little Lamb 01/14/12 - 03:21 pm
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0
Governments, who have the

Governments, who have the power to tax (i.e., take money from citizens by force), do not need insurance. I thank you, Dekebot, for pointing out that not only does the Marriott parking deck property not belong to the city, but the property under the TEE Center itself does not. I did not know that. I wonder if Matt Aitken knows it?

Little Lamb
48039
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Little Lamb 01/14/12 - 03:26 pm
0
0
Look at this from the story

Look at this from the story above:

Russell said a meeting between Azziz and the Ripken and Jacoby officials would occur later Friday but none did. The meeting was not on Azziz’s calendar Friday, and other officials knew nothing about it.

This shows the arrogance of Ripken and Jacoby. They think they can breeze into town and have the president of a major university drop everything he is doing and kiss their rings. It seems Russell is dealing with people who expect to be served, not to serve. We are dealing with greedy, greedy, people who think taxpayers are here merely to be sucked dry.

jasonr
8
Points
jasonr 01/14/12 - 03:27 pm
0
0
I think this is a better idea

I think this is a better idea than the previous attempts to build the stadium downtown. Allow ASU/GHSU to purchase the open lot and build a new multipurpose stadium on it. This would allow the baseball/softball teams to play on the field, and maybe open up the ability to have outside graduations, which would save money from using the time slots at the bell or civic center. If the baseball teams are allowed to play there, tear down the old fields at the athletics complex, and now you have plenty of room to expand the campus on land that the school already owns, which could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/14/12 - 03:34 pm
0
0
I've said it before, but all

I've said it before, but all of my respect for Ripken is gone.

BuckeyeInGA
114
Points
BuckeyeInGA 01/14/12 - 03:38 pm
0
0
Just say no to OUR government

Just say no to OUR government getting any deeper in the entertainment business than it already is. If Cal Ripken Jr wants a new stadium, let him build a new stadium at his expense.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/14/12 - 04:23 pm
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0
Oh by the way folks, Ed

Oh by the way folks, Ed Presnell is the guy who gave us Matt Aitken. So I'd suggest the people of Dist 1 saying NO to a second term for Aitken and Presnell.

Discussionstarter
495
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Discussionstarter 01/14/12 - 05:01 pm
0
0
Folks.... Deke won't quit

Folks.... Deke won't quit until he gets his stadium. I said over two years ago... either MCG or ASU should expand on to the golf gardens site. Savannah College of Art & Design did the same in Savannah and that is why Savannah has such a progressive downtown. We do NOT need a stadium on that site.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 01/14/12 - 05:25 pm
0
0
It kills me to say it

It kills me to say it but....the fix is in....Our Mayor, his friends and their cronies will not stop until this stadium happens....whether we like it or not. Nothing short of a referendum will stop it. Maybe we should push to have an item placed on the ballot in November....

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/14/12 - 05:31 pm
0
0
why don't the two political

why don't the two political parties get together and have this added as a straw poll to the July primaries on both party ballots. Let the people have a say.

Dipshot
-5
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Dipshot 01/14/12 - 05:51 pm
0
0
Just curious.. weren't these

Just curious.. weren't these negotiations between Russell and Ripken Baseball only supposed to last for 90 days? That was back in July of last year. During the 90 day period after the commission approved to allow Russell to enter negotiations with Ripken Baseball.. Russell brought no transaction proposal forward.. and Ripken Baseball presented no proposal either. So hasn't this expired by now? Doesn't the commission need to reauthorize these negotiations since it is long past the 90 day window? This is why it was a mistake to give Russell, who has proven he is sneaky and inept, carte blanche to enter into these private negotiations with Ripken Baseball. We saw what a great deal he delivered on the $12 million parking deck

seenitB4
93940
Points
seenitB4 01/14/12 - 05:38 pm
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0
Conservman....Hold your

Conservman....Hold your nose--open thy mouth & swallow...& it won't be so bad...:)

Riverman1
90847
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Riverman1 01/14/12 - 05:43 pm
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0
Dipshot, that 90 day thing is

Dipshot, that 90 day thing is interesting. How did they say it?

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/14/12 - 05:56 pm
0
0
I don't remember exactly, but

I don't remember exactly, but I do seem to remember this for being only for a period of 90 days.. maybe someone should go look it up

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/14/12 - 06:12 pm
0
0
Jason.. you do realize that

Jason.. you do realize that ASU already has a sports complex including ballparks on Wrightsboro Rd, don't you? What incentive is there for the merged university to build a minor league ballpark for Ripken Baseball.. taking up a bulk of state owned land at the GGHOF site. Azziz wants university expansion on that site and that's what should go there.. not a free ballpark for someone else. And besides it wouldn't be ballpark for the Jaguars.. Ripken wants it for his team.. the college baseball season coincides with the minor league season. There is just no benefit for the university to engage in this.. They would be essentially giving up most of the state land that they could use for expansion. And any expansion of University sports facilities should occur at the Wrightsboro Rd campus

Little Lamb
48039
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Little Lamb 01/14/12 - 06:16 pm
0
0
I don't remember anything

I don't remember anything about the 90 days, but it would be true to form for Russell. Why do you think I gave him the nickname “What, me worry?” He misses deadlines, messes up details, and has no shame in misinforming commissioners, reporters, and the public. All the while, his bosses hold him accountable for nothing.

createyourfuture
68
Points
createyourfuture 01/14/12 - 06:21 pm
0
0
ADowntown stadium complex

ADowntown stadium complex really helped boost Greenville SC. Check it out.

Little Lamb
48039
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Little Lamb 01/14/12 - 06:24 pm
0
0
There is nothing in this

There is nothing in this article about the 90 day thing, but it is an interesting look at community sentiment back last June. I miss Brad Owens’ posting here these days.

Transaction Plan

lovingthesouth72
1399
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lovingthesouth72 01/14/12 - 06:34 pm
0
0
This sounds like job security

This sounds like job security for a whole lot of people! Let's grow Augusta and strengthen the economy, and set aside the narrow minded "black vs white" politics that keep this city in the pre-civil war era!

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