Some businesses still don't want stadium

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Building a new stadium downtown might cement the Augusta GreenJackets' affiliation with the San Francisco Giants, but many downtown business owners aren't convinced of the plan's wisdom.

Susan McCord
Government Reporter
Twitter: @reportr1
E-mail | 706-823-3215

Most contacted this week were not aware of a meeting, held last week for GreenJackets owner Ripken Baseball Group by the Downtown Development Authority, in which supporters praised the project as a boon to downtown development.

"I think it would put me out of business," said Steve Rossmoine, the owner of New Life Auto Repair, located directly across 13th Street from the 16-acre Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Botanical Gardens property being eyed as a location for the stadium. "The city would come in here and take this for parking."

Others contacted Tuesday were skeptical about the suitability of the site for the project.

"Did baseball diamonds get smaller?" asked Toni Guisto, an estimator at nearby Countersync.

The existing stadium, where players have trained for the Giants as GreenJackets since 2005, occupies 14.7 acres at the end of a two-lane road on the banks of Lake Olmstead and has just 500 parking spaces.

A feasibility study conducted for the downtown stadium proposal, which does not include a parking deck, cites the availability of 5,000 parking spaces within a half-mile walk of the stadium.

"It's really kind of congested enough already here," noted Minnie Davis, the office manager for the Augusta branch of an electrical union, which sits across Reynolds Street from the golf gardens' serpentine wall.

About a quarter of downtown business owners polled said they supported the plan.

"Anything that would improve it; a stadium would be maintained," said Vance Shimley, the owner of Nu Roofs, which adjoins the golf hall property at 13th and Reynolds streets.

Currently the walled, but unsecured site often serves as a place of rest for Augusta's homeless, and Nu Roofs has a firsthand view of its overgrown greenery, Shimley said.

"A ballpark," said Chris King, the owner of Sweet Lou's Crab Shack, located on Broad Street two blocks from the golf hall property. "I see the same faces day after day. Anything that would bring more people here would be a good idea," he said.

"Baseball is better," Pizza Joint general manager Natasha Shin said, of potential uses for the golf hall property. "We do more baseball in Augusta than anything."

A manufacturer of caddie uniforms and other golf gear downtown, International Uniform owner Fred Daitch remains remorseful about the failure of the golf hall, but said the stadium proposal had his support.

With the same being true for the golf hall of fame, "anything done right works," Daitch said of building a stadium downtown.

On Wednesday, Giants operations manager Bobby Evans intimated that Augusta could expect no longer-term commitment from the Giants without a ballpark "befitting of the great city of Augusta, Ripken Baseball and the San Francisco Giants."

Should the stadium plan move forward, it's unlikely it would be finished at the end of the Giants' agreement with Augusta, renewed Wednesday, which runs out in 2012.

If Augusta agrees to finance a new stadium, Daitch said he hoped it wouldn't be without a guarantee from Ripken and the Giants to stay here.

"You build it, I'll probably stay -- I don't agree with that," he said. "They have to come to the table with a guarantee they'll be here."

Before the Giants, minor-league Augusta teams served as affiliates for the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who is running for re-election and told commissioners earlier this year it would be "a crime" for Georgia to lose GreenJackets owner Cal Ripken, said he wasn't surprised that a major league baseball team wanted players to train in the best facility available.

"It's not surprising -- you see new facilities being built in other cities. I don't think it's inappropriate that the Giants would weigh in to help build a new complex."

Copenhaver said he was leaving it to Ripken Baseball and stadium developer Jim Jacoby now to make the case for the city's financial involvement in the project.

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Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 09/16/10 - 04:18 am
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"Giants operations manager

"Giants operations manager Bobby Evans intimated that Augusta could expect no longer-term commitment from the Giants without a ballpark "befitting of the great city of Augusta, Ripken Baseball and the San Francisco Giants."

Hmmmmmm, sounds like they need to find somewhere that is befitting a team of their status...

"Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who is running for re-election and told commissioners earlier this year it would be "a crime" for Georgia to lose GreenJackets owner Cal Ripken, said he wasn't surprised that a major league baseball team wanted players to train in the best facility available"

Sounds like we need to teach Deke what a CRIME is. He can comment on this but not the surge of crime and murders in Augusta?

And if Augusta's not good enough, let them find a place that meets their multi-million dollar pampered butts somewhere else.

I support the stadium because it will help downtown, and Fred has it right, no $40,000,000.00 investment by the people on a 'maybe.'

VOTE FOR LORI! VOTE FOR COMMON SENSE!

Brad

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 09/16/10 - 05:39 am
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Currently, the city stands to

Currently, the city stands to invest $40 million? Is that bond money or does that include an estimated value of over $20million for the property?

A multi-purpose stadium that includes a baseball diamond is a good investment for downtown Augusta. (certainly better than the previous use of the property)
I'm glad this article is being written, along with previous coverage of possible uses for the property. The secret development of the multi-million dollar elitist's park was sure a surprise. Did anyone ever find out where all of those millions went for the building of the "Golf Hall of Fame" park? And what, exactly, was the total investment in the park?

disssman
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disssman 09/16/10 - 07:20 am
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So a secret meeting was held

So a secret meeting was held for supporters, and surprise surprise, they all like the idea. Just who does the DDA work for anyway?

disssman
6
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disssman 09/16/10 - 07:32 am
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If we need a new stadium, why

If we need a new stadium, why not build it near Bobby Jones and the river? Sure is a lot of area out there, the cost would be about half, Future expansion is more than adequate, no traffic problems, easy access for everyone and brings development to south Augusta.

Are the games going to be played at night or during 100 degree afternoons? If played at night, are all (jone) the stores open or closed? If they are open and people are attending the game, that is a loss. If they are closed, it is no impact on their bottom lines. What happens when all the parking downtown is gobbles up for baseball and shoppers have no place to park?

When are we going to demand the removal of the DDA in its entirety? I haven't seen a credible project they are 100% responsible for.

coco rubio
53
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coco rubio 09/16/10 - 07:49 am
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this headline should be THE

this headline should be THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE STILL DOESN'T WANT A DOWNTOWN STADIUM.....

animate
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animate 09/16/10 - 07:51 am
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There are secret meetings,

There are secret meetings, trying to keep Cal happy, a cramped lot without parking. Hmm, doesn't sound so good when everything is weighed out. There is nothing wrong with the present location. There is plenty of room for a parking deck and a fraction of the $40 million could be put to better use where the existing stadium is now. Cal is super rich, if he wants a new stadium, let it come out of HIS pocket. You would have to be an idiot to even consider building this in cramped downtown, not to mention the $40 million would turn into $100 million before the first pitch was thrown.

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 09/16/10 - 08:01 am
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Ripkin is planning to use his

Ripkin is planning to use his own money! I have been talking about this for weeks...

Looks like the majority of the anti-stadium business folks they are quoting are the ones who do not have businesses that cater to walk up clients...they want to be left alone in a quiet corner. Understandable...but out of context for a story like this...

Indigo
4
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Indigo 09/16/10 - 08:04 am
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The stadium is a fantastic

The stadium is a fantastic idea. Why anyone cares what the Electrical Union has to say is beyond me. They can operate what they do in a swamp somewhere, baseball is where the money's at. And I am not even a baseball fan.

billoftt
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billoftt 09/16/10 - 08:05 am
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If the new stadium will be so

If the new stadium will be so great and make so much money and be so Ultra Mega Awesome, then Cal Jr. or the SF Giants should have no problems whatsoever using their capital to finance it.

Cal Jr. should have the money after all, since he now sells his autograph on a baseball in the current stadium for 200 bucks each.

Right now, Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha is getting bulldozed because they are building a new stadium to house the College World Series. The CWS has been played in Omaha since 1950 and the NCAA signed a contract to keep the CWS in the new stadium through 2035. Now, something like that might be worth a city helping out with the costs. Are Cal Jr. and the SF Giants willing to sign a contract with the city? Do they have a rich history dating back 60 years?

You be the judge.

augusta citizen
10700
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augusta citizen 10/19/12 - 04:57 pm
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..

..

augusta citizen
10700
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augusta citizen 10/19/12 - 05:00 pm
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..

..

billoftt
0
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billoftt 09/16/10 - 09:10 am
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Citizen, your 8:54 sounds

Citizen, your 8:54 sounds like what is going on right now with uor elected "representatives."

countyman
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countyman 09/16/10 - 10:40 am
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Billy Morris or Cal Ripken

Billy Morris or Cal Ripken and Jim Jacoby?

Morris Museum of Art or Multi-use stadium?

This is too easy!

grinder48
2257
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grinder48 09/16/10 - 11:02 am
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austin - why - if Cal R is
Unpublished

austin - why - if Cal R is willing to use his money, why would we not want it? You mean he's putting up $40 mil? (I don't know where that number came from). Would the city then be responsible for upkeep and maintanence? What's that expected anual cost for that?

sjgraci
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sjgraci 09/16/10 - 11:33 am
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Build the Stadium Downtown!

Build the Stadium Downtown!

countyman
22771
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countyman 09/16/10 - 11:49 am
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Imagine watching a baseball

Imagine watching a baseball game overlooking the beautiful savannah river.. After the game is over being able to walk to the attached restaurants, hotels, offices, greenspace, and retail stores... Not to mention Starbucks, Augustinos, Quiznos, Cafe 209, Mi Rancho, Cotton Patch, Beamies, and Boll Weevil already on Reynolds street. The numerous bars, restuarants, stores, clubs, etc on Broad street are only minutes away...

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/16/10 - 11:56 am
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It's amazing how the

It's amazing how the misinformation is being thrown out. Rhodes says Ripken is going to pay for this. Well, if he has agreed to that, he certainly expects the land to be given to him. Want to bet on that, anyone?

Secondly, all you get from the Giants is vague statements that they would probably stay in Augusta if a new stadium is built. We have had teams leave in the past and there's absolutely no assurances the Giants won't pack up and leave if another city makes them a better deal. Imagine a stadium taking up that beautiful land on the river and no pro team.

scredsfan
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scredsfan 09/16/10 - 12:02 pm
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Of course businessmen are

Of course businessmen are opposed - does anyone in this town favor progress? especially if it costs money.

maggiemae
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maggiemae 09/16/10 - 12:06 pm
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I love the idea of a ballpark

I love the idea of a ballpark downtown at that location. It would do much for the scenic view..can you imagine, coming across the 13Th St bridge and seeing the glowing lights of a stadium.
Now, If leaders can make a plan to get the stadium built without placing a burden on the taxpayers...notice I didn't say "people", but taxpayers. It can be done, find a way.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 09/16/10 - 12:12 pm
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If Ripken baseball has the

If Ripken baseball has the intention to finance the entire project then they certainly neglected to mention it. This PR tour is just a way to try and load the majority of this on the taxpayers. Why would you need to "sell" something to people that you intend to pay for 100%? As I have said in the past, I , and I don't think the vast majority of folks in Augusta would have any problem with a private organization building a ballpark with 100% of their own money.. but that does NOT appear to be the arrangement. And Brad is right... our mayor can comment on this issue ad nauseum, but you'll never hear a peep out of him when it comes to things that really matter to most people in this city.. like the high crime rate. As Brad said, vote common sense, vote Lori.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 09/16/10 - 12:23 pm
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And for the stadium

And for the stadium cheerleading squad..these things Do NOT have the big economic bounce that many of you are envisioning. When the District of Columbia sank over $600 million in a new ballpark to bring in The Nationals, one of the big selling points was that it would help draw more restaurants to that area.. but now, 5 years later, there are barely any new restaurants.. just the McDonalds a few blocks away that has been there for years.. for the most part patrons, just get on the metro or their cars and go somewhere else to eat. As far as Chattanooga and Greenville..these cities already had vibrant downtowns before new ballparks were ever built. In the case of Greenville, their ballpark was built in the blighted west-end area and not on prime downtown real-estate like what is being proposed for Augusta. It was also financed 100% without public tax money. I know many downtown business owners who are against tax money being used for a stadium because once again it will tie up tens of millions of our tax dollars on another big boondoggle with only vague promises of boosting downtown. (how many times have these promises been made and then failed to live up to the hype?: Port Royal, Fort Discovery, The Augusta Museum, Golf Hall of Fame anyone). All the while, the city cannot or will not perform basic services adequately in the downtown area...things that will actually help downtown merchants the most.. like having a greater police presence in the area, funding a Broad Street precinct station, maintaining the Riverwalk and securing it, fixing the sidewalks, cleaning up the blight from Broad Street to Walton Way.

countyman
22771
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countyman 09/16/10 - 12:39 pm
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Augusta doesn't have a high

Augusta doesn't have a high crime rate... The crime rate in Augusta is moderate. I'll take the crime in Augusta over almost every city our size...

1. Augusta 419.9
2. Hunstville 493.2
3. Columbus 527.7
4. Knoxville 528.0
5. Savannah 553.5
6. Greensboro 561.9
7. Chattanooga 663.8
8. Greenville 692.7
9. Baton Rouge 728.2
10. Charleston 824.3
http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_06.html

The FBI reported violent crime decreased in Augusta in 2009. I notice nobody is saying the mayor should have announced that information to the public...

Emerydan
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Emerydan 09/16/10 - 12:50 pm
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For anyone that thinks that a

For anyone that thinks that a new stadium is a great economic development tool..think again. There is a consensus among leading economists that the promises made by boosters of big economic benefits do not pay off. Bottom line is, we can do a lot more with $40 million in tax or bond money to boost downtown and Augusta than building a stadium with nebulous promises of economic stimulus.
http://biggovernment.com/wthuston/2010/07/10/want-economic-stimulus-dont...

countyman
22771
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countyman 09/16/10 - 12:56 pm
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The development is a

The development is a multi-use stadium.. The baseball stadium is only one piece to the puzzle..

There is no ''build and it will come''... Cal Ripken & Jim Jacoby are already behind the project... Jim Jacoby doesn't build baseball stadiums..
Atlantic station is a live, work, and play development. It offers theatres, townhomes, condos, loft, apartments, restuarants, office space, retail, and greenspace..
http://www.atlanticstation.com/home.php

Isn't Port Royal over 90% occupied? Comparing the downtown Augusta in 2010 to the downtown 10-20 years ago is day and night.. Augusta is ranked the 11th best economy(second quarter 2010) in the nation, and was ranked 7th for the first quarter of 2010.

There is over $340 million worth of construction downtown in a 1 mile radius.

The 10th streetscape project is beautiful... New sidewalks, streetlights, & trees are going on James Brown Boulevard/9th street. 9th street will be transformed into a major gateway(2 yrs ago most people would have laugh)downtown. But with the new library, judicial center, red-star mix-use building, laney walker developments, a possible future shopping center and expanded Dyess park. 9th street is definitely on it's way too becoming a major gateway...

A new stage is under construction at the 8th street Bulkhead for the popular Candlelight Jazz Series and Saturday Market on the river...

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 09/16/10 - 01:09 pm
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countyman... this is nothing

countyman... this is nothing like Atlantic Station.. have you ever been to Atlantic Station? There is no ballpark in Atlantic Station.. it is a lifestyle center, condos, apartments, and office park. That is not what this is.. and Atlantic Station was built with 100% private money. But Atlanta is Atlanta and this is Augusta... if there is this huge demand for condos and office space in downtown.. why didn't The Watermark project get built? Why is the White's building still 2/3rds empty? Why do we still have a glut of empty office space in downtown? We have not heard any real concrete plans about this "multi-use facility"...so what are all of these multi-uses? Bottom line.. iof its such a great idea and such a great moneymaker.. then they shouldn't need to come to the taxpayers to finance it.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 09/16/10 - 01:11 pm
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as far as venues for

as far as venues for candlelight Jazz and other small concerts on the river... is that not what we built the Jessye Norman Amphitheater for? Why is that facility barely ever used?

disssman
6
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disssman 09/16/10 - 01:16 pm
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Countyman. Your comparison

Countyman. Your comparison leaves out a few thisgs about Atlantic station. So I will rope you into reality with a snippet from their web "Providing homes for 10,000 people, employment opportunities for 30,000, with shopping and entertainment for millions more, this 24-hour community will buzz with pedestrian traffic on its wide boulevards and the crowd of people in the sidewalk cafes and expansive parks. The result? A quality of life unmatched in the Southeast."

Now how many people are going to live at the stadium?
Now how many full time people will work ther.
Now where is the wide Boulevard? I hope it isn't Reynolds street.
Now where is that expansive park?
Now is it really going to be open 24 hours a day?
Now what kind of Sidewalk cafes are we really going to have?

I really think you have picked the wrong comparison unless we build out by the Airport where all the visions would be possible.

disssman
6
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disssman 09/16/10 - 01:18 pm
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Countyman. When was Port

Countyman. When was Port royal actually built? You seem to think it is a recent occurance. BTW isn't it located next to the NSC which is already making plans to move to South Augusta?

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 09/16/10 - 01:22 pm
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How about the city just spend

How about the city just spend the $40 million to build some riverfront cafes... if thats what we are really after... I mean countyman keeps envisioning these cafes opening up because of the stadium.. welll lets just cut to the chase and build the durn cafes, espresso bars, and gelato shops.. we could probably do so for a lot less then what this stadium would cost us. And most people who go to baseball games do not lounge around in cafes and gelato shops before or after the game.. they grab a hotdog and beer inside the park.. after the game, they get into their cars and go home. I've been to many big league ball parks all over the country.. and I have yet to see this European village atmosphere spring up around any of them.

disssman
6
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disssman 09/16/10 - 01:24 pm
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Countyman. If 9th street is

Countyman. If 9th street is going to be a major gateway, exactly what 4 lane or more street does it connect to to become such?

P.S. you still haven't told us what our cost is for the 10th street "streetscape" project and where the city has posted the project for all to see.

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