Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Stadium arguments can have little to do with game

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Discussions between the city of Augusta and Ripken Baseball Group about building a new Augusta GreenJackets stadium got under way Friday, with Ripken Vice President Jeff Eiseman meeting with city finance, recreation and administrative personnel via conference call.

Tight-lipped City Administrator Fred Russell remained tight-lipped after the meeting.

"It was a wide-ranging conversation," he told Chronicle Staff Writer Susan McCord .

Now it's getting serious, so I called my baseball expert, former utility infielder Spud "Iron Glove" McGinty to find out what to make of this latest move. Iron Glove said this is how it goes:

BUY ME SOME PEANUTS AND CRACKER JACK... AND A NEW STADIUM: "We love your city and want to play baseball here forever," says Cash "On The Barrelhead" Gamer, a not-so-grizzled veteran of the baseball wars and now a team owner. "And we love the old ballpark. It's just not what we need. The revenue stream there is more of a trickle."

Gamer has told local politicians and taxpayers that he and his financial team, who might even be willing to help the city figure out how to pay for some of the project, would be real happy if the politicians and taxpayers would agree to build a stadium to replace the ballpark.

You see, ballparks, except in Chicago and Boston, are relics of a bygone era -- a time when ballplayers played day games in front of businessmen in suits and hats, who for the most part made more money than the ballplayers.

It was a quaint time when going to a ballpark was all about the game. Now, to hear Cash Gamer tell it, the game is not enough. What fans really want to do is go to an event. They need a destination. And a new stadium would make their city that destination.

"We need a stadium," Gamer says. "A place where, sure, there will be a ballgame going on for those few old souls interested in such stuff, but there will be many other entertainment options, each with an additional charge, of course: batting cages, pitching cages, endless food options, photo booths, fortune tellers, dancing girls and all the beer you can afford!"

"And then there are the stadium suites," Iron Glove continued. "Bet you never heard of a ballpark suite, did you? The private, completely enclosed and air-conditioned stadium suites are sold to businesses for very, very big bucks. The businesses then write off the costs and use the stadium suites to entertain and impress clients. They could do the same thing in an office across town with a big-screen TV in it for all the at-the-game feel you get in one of those sterile stadium suites. But wait, I forgot. It's not about the game anymore. It's about money -- money, money, money, money."

So, Gamer, mixing his sports metaphors, tells the pols and the taxpayers the ball is in their court.

Right now there seem to be two schools of thought: If we build it, they will stay. And we don't want to build it, and we don't care whether they stay or not.

Iron Glove said what happens next is pretty clear-cut.

"A: The city plays ball and the deal is put together for a new stadium. Team stays. Attendance picks up. Revenues are up. The people in the community who wanted that are happy.

"B: The stadium is rejected. The ballpark remains. The team leaves. The people in the community who wanted that are happy. But then a search committee is formed to recruit another team, preferably one not so bent on success.

"Now the politicians' quandary in all this comes down to how many voters on each side of the issue will be unhappy enough with the outcome to choose a new government team."

For most, it's a close call.

BACK AT CITY HALL: With no baseball items on the agenda, it was pretty slow at the Augusta Commission meeting Thursday.

One of the most exciting things they had going was Jeff Gorelick 's request on behalf of downtown merchants and property owners to find other venues for events such as the recent bike races that closed Broad and Ellis streets and kept disabled employees of Ruben's Department Store from getting to work. Gorelick said people on Ellis Street were locked in. He suggested using other places such as the Civic Center or the Regency Mall parking lot. He said he had called the mall's owners, who said they would certainly be willing for the city to use the lot, but when Gorelick asked whether it was in good shape, they said they didn't know.

The upshot was that Russell will take the matter in hand and report back to the board.

There were a few other things of mild interest, such as awarding the bid for a new roof for the Augusta Museum of History to low bidder Bone Dry Roofing of Athens, Ga. Whether Bone Dry will do a better job than the original contractor did in 1996 remains to be seen, but the name sounds good.

Bone dry would be unique for Augusta's public buildings, which for some strange reason have been plagued with leaky roofs for years. Chief among them is the Law Enforcement Center, whose water problems have been fodder for news stories since it opened in the mid-1980s. Leaks in the Marble Palace also ruined plaster and flooded floors for years until the Superior Court judges threatened to issue a court order for something to be done. The old public library at Greene and Ninth streets also had a leaky roof. So much for flat roofs and crooked contractors.

A CITY OF ETHICS: Augusta was recertified as a city of ethics by the Georgia Municipal Association last week. Hmmmm. Wonder who they had to bribe to get that? Just kidding. But the city does pay the GMA and Association County Commissioners of Georgia about $50,000 a year each for annual dues and conference registrations.

Most county commissions in Georgia belong to ACCG and city councils to GMA. But because Augusta is consolidated, the commission belongs to both, and commissioners attend the annual conferences and training sessions of both organizations. In other words, they double-dip. The ACCG held its annual conference in Savannah in April, and GMA followed suit last week.

Of course, Augusta's commissioners are benefitting from this rigorous extra training and seminar attendance. That's why they're so effective, don't you know.

Have a bang-up Fourth of July!

Reach Sylvia Cooper at sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (61) Add comment
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Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 07/02/11 - 08:55 pm
0
0
When it comes to the baseball

When it comes to the baseball stadium, two things are absolutely certain:

1) The downtown stadium is highly controversial.

2) The citizens of Augusta will NEVER get a vote on the issue.

I challenge the commissioners who believe in the stadium to put the issue up for a vote. How about a public forum? Maybe a poll? How about anything to get the public's input....or does the public really matter?

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 07/02/11 - 10:26 pm
0
0
I want a new Lamborghini and
Unpublished

I want a new Lamborghini and a new Harley in my driveway too. I can't pay for them on my budget. That's the part that baffles me and it seems only Alvin Mason gets. The city is 9 million in the hole. Work on fixing that and adding more police to parts of the county that need it and people will be willing to discuss a new stadium. Until you discuss the needs you will only get support for the wants from people that will benefit financially from this fiasco.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 07/02/11 - 10:37 pm
0
0
Sean can we please have a
Unpublished

Sean can we please have a delete option?

coco rubio
53
Points
coco rubio 07/02/11 - 10:31 pm
0
0
having the bike races

having the bike races downtown was awesome.....

dreamcatcher_ga
15
Points
dreamcatcher_ga 07/02/11 - 11:46 pm
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Why does the mayor keep

Why does the mayor keep harping on this one issue when no one in office seems to know why medical insurance for retirees and their dependents has been cancelled effective July 1, 2011? As the wife of a retired fireman this came to my attention at my pharmacy this morning when I was told our insurance was terminated. I have spent the entire day (July 2 ) on the phone and computer, emailing, texting, etc. the public officials until finally it seems that Mr. Russell has pointed this problem in the right direction. I'm sure the "problem" will be corrected but this should have been an important enough issue for someone in the "powers that be" to be on top of. A problem that should have never occured. Then when I finally get time to open the paper tonight I have to see another headline about that ballpark. I suppose that I will never understand why it seems to be more important to get another stadium than it is to make sure the retirees of the city receive the benefits they are entitled to.....yes, I used the word entitled.

dreamcatcher_ga
15
Points
dreamcatcher_ga 07/02/11 - 11:46 pm
0
0
Why does the mayor keep

Why does the mayor keep harping on this one issue when no one in office seems to know why medical insurance for retirees and their dependents has been cancelled effective July 1, 2011? As the wife of a retired fireman this came to my attention at my pharmacy this morning when I was told our insurance was terminated. I have spent the entire day (July 2 ) on the phone and computer, emailing, texting, etc. the public officials until finally it seems that Mr. Russell has pointed this problem in the right direction. I'm sure the "problem" will be corrected but this should have been an important enough issue for someone in the "powers that be" to be on top of. A problem that should have never occured. Then when I finally get time to open the paper tonight I have to see another headline about that ballpark. I suppose that I will never understand why it seems to be more important to get another stadium than it is to make sure the retirees of the city receive the benefits they are entitled to.....yes, I used the word entitled.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 07/03/11 - 12:32 am
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0
I would say EARNED more than
Unpublished

I would say EARNED more than entitled!!

SlapShot2
0
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SlapShot2 07/03/11 - 02:39 am
0
0
What a waste of space.

What a waste of space. Please wite more fictional stories like davis for mayor. These opinions are so one sided and outdated its laughable.

Brad Owens
4906
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Brad Owens 07/03/11 - 03:20 am
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0
Jeff Gorelick is Bonnie

Jeff Gorelick is Bonnie Ruben's husband. I really doubt that he missed too much business due to the races but hey, when someone needs a pair of double knit polyester slacks, they only have a handful of choices; Goodwill, The Salvation Army Thrift Shops, the Barn Yard Flea Market, or Ruben's.

In all fairness, only Ruben's has brand new pairs, still in the box from 1978.

Brad

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 07/03/11 - 03:45 am
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0
All we need is L.O.V.E. Lake

All we need is L.O.V.E.

Lake Olmstead Venue Edification.

I am against building a new stadium with public’s funds. All the stated goals can be met at the current site with upgrades made at a much lower cost.

Everyone needs to remember, this is NOT about the new stadium so much as it is about getting the Lake Olmstead Stadium property available for "re-development"

Just read Augusta Tomorrow's "Master" plan (what an appropriate name for a plan coming from that group), it says it right there that they want condos and plan on making condos on the current Lake Olmstead Stadium property once the new stadium is built downtown.

It is pretty obvious that all the debate they have created about downtown is just a smoke screen. That is why now they have opened up other options they are "willing" to consider, as if the choice had already been made to build the new stadium but that they were just waiting to see where.

That is why they take all these projects and put them in writing; if they are in writing then it is something that has been "planned" and they just push them along until they get built into SPLOST or some other form of public project so they get the cash for developing it and we get the bill.

I mean why do you think Deke "Ironman" Copenhaver, The Mandate Mayor, is coming out for it despite massive opposition amongst the voters? Have you ever known him to stand against ANYTHING, much less a public stance like he has?

It is a smoke screen and it is working.

They know the downtown spot is a massive point of opposition, so they push the site knowing everyone will oppose it, then they open up to other sites, that makes them look reasonable, all the while they intend on keeping everyone's eyes on 'where' the new stadium will go, while they plan on getting the land left behind for pennies on the dollar to build condos.

It is all in the plan, all you have to do is read it and see this for what it is, another way to get developers more rich off the public till.

NEEDS before WANTS...

Brad

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 07/03/11 - 03:52 am
0
0
dreamcatcher is right, if

dreamcatcher is right, if they spend half as much time taking care of all the things we have they would have no time to worry about this stuff.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 07/03/11 - 07:12 am
0
0
Deke works for the citizens
Unpublished

Deke works for the citizens not Ripken Baseball if he spent as much time doing his job as he does schmoozing Cal Ripken the city wouldn't have half the problems.

Incognito
0
Points
Incognito 07/03/11 - 07:30 am
0
0
The city of Orangeburg has

The city of Orangeburg has decided they can't think small and be like people in a cave. They are going to construct a baseball stadium as big as Turner Field because they know a Class A minor league team will move where there is such a stadium, regardless of the demographics of the city. The stadium will be right on the Edisto River in case a minor league owner might like that. They might be onto something here.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 07/03/11 - 07:34 am
0
0
I wonder if that city is 9
Unpublished

I wonder if that city is 9 million in the hole?

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 07/03/11 - 07:43 am
0
0
Maybe Ripken will move his

Maybe Ripken will move his team to Orangeburg then?

travisp73
53
Points
travisp73 07/03/11 - 08:07 am
0
0
The bike races were indeed

The bike races were indeed awesome. Is no baseball really a better option than working with a group with a proven track record for helping the communities in which they exist grow?

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 07/03/11 - 08:23 am
0
0
When that city is 9 million
Unpublished

When that city is 9 million in the hole and the baseball stadium they have is top notch and 5 minutes from downtown? I am all for growth but when a city is raising property taxes on homeowners and the budget is 9 million in the hole a baseball stadium is not a fix!

Incognito
0
Points
Incognito 07/03/11 - 08:24 am
0
0
Understand this, Ripken

Understand this, Ripken Stadium, in Aberdeen, seats 6,000 and has been sold out every game since it's opening in 2002, yet the city loses mega sums of money on it's operation. The big discussion in Aberdeen is about the mistake of building the stadium.

The stadium has concerts there as they intend to do here. Of course these concerts will take away from performances at the JB Arena and Bell which struggle now to get acts.

Ripken enterprises does well pocketing the money, but not contributing to the costs to run the stadium. Please look up these FACTS and judge for yourselves.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 07/03/11 - 08:39 am
0
0
Actually, Sunday baseball
Unpublished

Actually, Sunday baseball games are BIG in the Orangeburg area. It's a family tradition decades old.

Demographics of the city???? So only certain people like baseball...? WOW! Talk about thinking small.

RE: Bike racing DT - AWESOME! Bring it back!

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 07/03/11 - 08:44 am
0
0
travisp73, Why are you all

travisp73,

Why are you all against Lake Olmstead Stadium? Is that the only options? Spend $40million or no baseball?

Brad

Incognito
0
Points
Incognito 07/03/11 - 09:05 am
0
0
Demographics of the city

Demographics of the city refers to the number of people there and their per capita income. They have 12,000 residents and the per capita income of residents is $15,000. But I'm glad you made my point for me. You have to consider the city, population, income, tax base and so on when you decide to commit public money.

But I agree with you that Orangeburg Sunday baseball with people watching from under the oaks and bringing their own half pints is classic. I have a great book of southern photos with a scene from a game in Orangeburg.

The thing is Orangeburg is suited for that, not building a Turner Field.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 07/03/11 - 08:48 am
0
0
Where is Riverman1? I hope

Where is Riverman1? I hope he did not get banned.

seenitB4
96821
Points
seenitB4 07/03/11 - 08:54 am
0
0
Where is Riverman1? I hope he

Where is Riverman1? I hope he did not get banned.

I'm starting to worry about you & river brad.... LOL

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 07/03/11 - 09:02 am
0
0
If we, the taxpayers, build a

If we, the taxpayers, build a downtown stadium and it is successful, Ripken wins and we win.

If we, the taxpayers, build a downtown stadium and it is NOT successul, Ripkin wins and we lose.

At an 8 percent tax rate, how much addtional (as in new revenue on top of exisiting revenue, i.e. new visitors to Augusta, additional meals purchased, additional gas purchased) revenue must be brought in to pay for the stadium?

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 07/03/11 - 09:14 am
0
0
RM1, is one of the best and

RM1, is one of the best and funniest posters on here.

Brad

seenitB4
96821
Points
seenitB4 07/03/11 - 09:17 am
0
0
I agree Brad.....oops..I see

I agree Brad.....oops..I see what you mean now....his page is missing...I won't be a happycamper if he doesn't come back on here...

Incognito
0
Points
Incognito 07/03/11 - 09:30 am
0
0
Aberdeen on June 30, agreed

Aberdeen on June 30, agreed to give Ripken Stadium $250,000 a year to cover operating expenses through 2022. The mayor has previously said the city couldn't afford the stadium and needed to get rid of it.

From Department of Legislative Services
Maryland General Assembly
2011 Session:

"the next $250,000 to the Ripken Stadium Authority to offset the annual operating or capital costs of maintaining Ripkin Stadium (this provision applies only for fiscal 2012 through 2022)"

Brad and SeenItB4, hang on...we're working on it. :). I'm thinking it was some kind of mistake.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 07/03/11 - 09:32 am
0
0
Sean and the admin folks have

Sean and the admin folks have been really getting tough on folks and trying to prevent abuse.

I hope it is just a msitake.

Brad

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 07/03/11 - 09:53 am
0
0
I miss pointcove... that guy

I miss pointcove... that guy was ten times better than Riverman1 :)

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 07/03/11 - 09:57 am
0
0
To generate the taxes to fund

To generate the taxes to fund a $38.7 million stadium, we need to bring an ADDITIONAL $483,750,000 in revenue.

How many years would that take?

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