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.

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Incognito
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Incognito 07/03/11 - 04:21 pm
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Gordon Hwy is like a math

Gordon Hwy is like a math problem. If you start walking down it from Ft. Gordon with a hundred dollars in your pocket, by the time you get to Southgate Shopping Center you would have zero....and a bump on the head. (Explain the math and show your work.)

Iwannakno
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Iwannakno 07/03/11 - 04:28 pm
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You can't be serious? You

Unpublished

You can't be serious? You really think the area between North Leg on Gordon Highway and the Carolina line is improving? Ok your posts show how one sided you really are. You cannot spend your way out of a deficit. The three motels across from Southgate, which you seem to think is this grand shopping center, are full of drug addicts and hookers one has even been condemned. Once more I will state...so you can't say I am just bashing all of Augusta. Augusta had some great areas. It also has a huge crime infested area. Until you clean up that part of town you cannot really ask tax payers to foot the bill for some rich people downtown to get richer. Augusta can be a great place again but you cannot ignore the center of South Augusta and keep pumping their tax dollars to fund things that only benefit a few. As a city your responsibility is to offer the services that tax payers pay taxes for. Not baseball stadiums for rich owners and rich property owners. I love Augusta...born and raised there...wanted to raise my family there but self serving government officials are ruining it. I would love to move back there one day but it's a long ways away.

Incognito
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Incognito 07/03/11 - 04:25 pm
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Walking down Gordon Hwy is

Walking down Gordon Hwy is like a math problem. You start at Ft. Gordon with $100 in your pocket, but when you get to SouthGate Shopping Center you have 0 and a bump on your head. What happened? (Explain your work and show your math.)

Emerydan
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Emerydan 07/03/11 - 05:14 pm
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Once again Sylvia hits a

Once again Sylvia hits a "home-run"... this is why Dame Sylvia is an Augusta Treasure. Keep the hits coming.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 07/03/11 - 05:21 pm
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Trying to paint a positive

Trying to paint a positive face on Gordon highway is like trying to paint a smile on a turd. That road has never been a place to rush out of town visitors to see .."and now this is The Grand Augusta Strip"..but it has certainly gone progressively downhill over the last 20 years. It;s nothing but a hodgepodge of cheap meth lab hotels, junk yards, junk stores, pawn shops, and abandoned buildings galore all being choked by a jungle of weeds. It's an embarrassment to the Augusta. Anyone who is saying that corridor is "improving" must be on some pretty powerful chemical substances.. probably purchased from somewhere on The Gordon Highway

Iwannakno
1533
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Iwannakno 07/03/11 - 05:23 pm
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Thank you emery for putting

Unpublished

Thank you emery for putting it more eloquently than I did!

countyman
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countyman 07/03/11 - 07:02 pm
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The Willhaven subdivision

The Willhaven subdivision located off Gordon Hwy(between Jimmie Dyess and East Robinson Avenue) was the top selling(entire CSRA) neighborhood in the year 2009(51 homes & more category).. The neigborhood sold 166 homes and the dollar amount equaled $30 million.. The phase 3 portion of the neighborhood underway includes 14 extra lots..
http://www.homebuildersaugusta.org/pages/28/
http://appweb.augustaga.gov/planning_zoning/plazid_display.asp?zID=4169

The Willhaven subdivision is located right next door to the 200 acre Haynes Station neighborhood(underway).. The 62 acre/1 acre commercial Mccoys Creek development is about 1-2 miles away and it's under construction.

Insider Information
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Insider Information 07/03/11 - 07:47 pm
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countyman, thanks for dodging

countyman, thanks for dodging the question.

The voters of Richmond County supported the TEE Center, but the project became controversial because of the final price tag.

Of those who support the new baseball stadium, is there a price that is too much to pay to build it?

Iwannakno
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Iwannakno 07/03/11 - 08:08 pm
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He is well known for the

Unpublished

He is well known for the richmond county 2 step boogie.

allhans
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allhans 07/03/11 - 10:54 pm
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A new stadium might contain a

A new stadium might contain a luxury box for the city leaders?

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 07/04/11 - 04:20 am
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Hmmmm, seems that the 'vocal

Hmmmm, seems that the 'vocal minority' is a majority in most circles in Augusta. If you all who support destroying Lake Olmstead Stadium are so sure that you are right, put it on the ballot in 2012 and make it a binding funding proposal.

See how far you get with that idea.

Let us vote!

Brad

scgator
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scgator 07/04/11 - 07:38 am
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I agree with you Brad; my

I agree with you Brad; my late father-in-law, former councilman Jim Tarver was well aware of the behind the scenes shenanigans going on; and was publicly humiliated by a failed bribery sting that was set up by the "powers to be", trying to eliminate him from the voting process when the stadium issue first arose. It is most unfortunate for the city of Augusta, that it appears that nobody in any position of power or influence is capable of telling the general public ALL of the truth about ANYTHING. There is ALWAYS a hidden agenda that ALWAYS costs the taxpayers.
Politicians never really mind public criticism, for they know the vast majority will not do anything except vent their thoughts; what Augusta citizens need to do is across the board do not re-elect or endorse anybody who is currently in power, and at the same time, if any are local businessmen, let them know that you are campaigning to boycott their business in an organized AND legal manner to protest their "hard of hearing" condition. My late father-in-law said it best......"you can talk all day long and no one will listen, but, you get in a man's pocketbook, and you will get ALL of his attention."

Discussionstarter
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Discussionstarter 07/04/11 - 10:43 am
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I think Deke has been

I think Deke has been promised a job with the Ripken organization if he can make this stadium happen. The only people to blame for this continued foolery about the stadium are the ones who voted Deke back in to office. If Deke were running a private business and it was $9 million in the hole... the Board of Directors would have already fired him. I hope Joe Bowles is planning on running for Mayor; we need some common sense!!!

Incognito
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Incognito 07/04/11 - 02:58 pm
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Discussionstarter??? You

Discussionstarter??? You think Deke is going to work a real job? Never has, never will.

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