Panel eyes stadium plan again

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Plans to build a publicly financed multipurpose stadium, condominium and retail complex on the former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame property aren't dead -- they were just sleeping.

Eighteen months since a majority of the Augusta Commission panned the idea and nearly a year since Democratic voters in a low-turnout July primary did the same, the proposal again is being preliminarily floated -- this time by District 1 Commissioner Matt Aitken.

"Just exploring the options is not going to hurt anything," Aitken said. "We've got to figure out some ways to generate cash flow as well as investment opportunity."

Aitken, who has placed the item on the agenda for Tuesday's 5 p.m. commission meeting, said he had met with developers on the private side of the project who want to know what options for public support exist.

Last year's proposal was for a public-private partnership to finance development of a $38.7 million complex on the state-owned, 17-acre property. Private partners included Jacoby Development and Augusta GreenJackets owner Cal Ripken, who wants a new stadium for the team.

"I don't know how long their interest will stay in Augusta if they can't do business in the city," Aitken said.

The golf hall property has languished as a magnet for the homeless and weeds since the state pulled its funding in 2007. Last year, the State Properties Commission began preparations to auction the property at a minimum bid price of $2.8 million, to cover bonds still outstanding from the state's purchase of the land from owners in the 1990s.

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No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 06/03/11 - 09:19 pm
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"Eighteen months since a

"Eighteen months since a majority of Augusta Commissioners panned the idea and nearly a year since Democratic voters in a low-turnout July primary did the same, the proposal again is being preliminarily floated"

SOS-DC

"this time by District 1 Commissioner Matt Aitken"

Read my lips - THE VOTERS VOTED NO

Right on
187
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Right on 06/03/11 - 09:21 pm
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Good gosh, our city spent

Good gosh, our city spent money right under the taxpayers noses for a feasibilty study on this project. The group who did the study actually did a viabilty study for the stadium. These folks, mayor and one commissioner can not see the forest for the trees. There is not enough parking, the location is not central to the residents, and we already have a great facility. Three strikes and you are out. Makes no sense. Not surprising as it does to some.

corgimom
32500
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corgimom 06/03/11 - 10:18 pm
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"has languished as a magnet

"has languished as a magnet for the homeless and weeds"

That is downright funny. I laughed.

How many "guaranteed money-losers" can A-RC support?

That colossal white elephant, the TEE Center, is going to drain any funds that anyone ever thought about using for a stadium.

How many groups are booked there currently? One, or has the number doubled to two? I can just see the headlines now- "TEE Center bookings up 100%, declared a smashing success by Copenhaven".

If it's such a great idea, they why aren't private investors flocking to this magnificent proposal?

If ONE feasibility study didn't find it successful, and the economy has not improved and money is still hard to borrow, why would anyone want a second one?

AT WHAT POINT will the taxpayers finally say, "We've HAD it, we can't pay any more taxes"?

countyman
20129
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countyman 06/03/11 - 10:59 pm
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Luckily the people who live

Luckily the people who live in Richmond Couty are ready to become a real city... The voters of Richmond County approved the Tee Center... The new homes, townhomes, lights, business center, parks, etc in Laney Walker and Bethlehem are because of the Tee Center construction.... The parking deck(1st level commercial/retail space) under construction wouldn't have happen without the Tee Center.. The private investment taking place downtown(Lofts at Marbury Village, 34 condos underway at the Whites Building, Emporium, Red-Star mix use building, Rural Sourcing, Sutherland Mill, Soy Noodle House expansion, Sit A Spell, Aficionados, Sundrees Market, Tantra Lounge, etc is due to the continued investments into the downtown area.

Downtown can either have a vacant lot or beautiful condos, retail, and hotels attached to the baseball stadium overlooking the Savannah rier.. This is exactly what kind of project downtown Augusta needs.. A year round tourist destination right in the heart of downtown...

Corgimom.. Major developers are flocking to the proposed mix-use entertainment center... They include Cal Ripken Jr who is a famous baseball player.. The other person is Jim Jacoby the developer behind the Atlantic Station project..
http://www.atlanticstation.com/

double_standard
166
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double_standard 06/03/11 - 11:15 pm
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I wonder how the comments

I wonder how the comments would have went if it were one of the black commissioners brought this up. Where's austin, chillen, southern guy, and the other righties talking about spending.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 06/04/11 - 02:58 am
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No big surprise here that TEE

No big surprise here that TEE Center Aitken would make this motion.. This is the same guy whose entire campaign was predicated on getting the sweetheart TEE Center deal passed. And look what happened as soon as he won... TEE was passed. Make no mistake... Aitken was bought and paid for by the DDA and the Copenhaver brigade.. he does not represent dist 1...but rather the aforementioned. Hopefully Dist 1 voters will run and elect someone who represents there interests

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 06/04/11 - 03:00 am
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Hey Dist 1.... don't u wish

Hey Dist 1.... don't u wish you voted for BUTCH!

Brad Owens
4434
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Brad Owens 06/04/11 - 06:17 am
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The article sez, "Last year's

The article sez, "Last year's proposal was for a public-private partnership to finance development of a $38.7 million complex on the state-owned, 17-acre property.."

Just like the TEE was for $25,000,000.oo Total and then it ended up being over $100,000,000.00, and countryman, the voters NEVER supported that massive 300% increase with a vote, you are WRONG again, as usual.

I guess we can estimate that the total cost of the ball park will be $155,000,000.00?

If the so-called "developers" support this, I am against it. They only come out of their holes when the smell a profit and can shove the risk on to the tax payers.

Sure, for them it's a holiday, six days out of seven they are figuring out how to get out of paying taxes and when they want something they use the giverment to finance it at tax payer expense.

So that means WE are paying for all their dreams (they must have been stolen out of Boardman's fountain at the Surrey Center strip mall) and they feel we OWE it to them.

If the ball park goes forward, it will be the most-dumbest-and-stupidest thing we could ever do right now.

Millions of dollars short in funds, no tax increases, shrinking population, shrinking tax base, 100s of millions wasted on bovine feces like the Golf and Gardens, TEE, and now this again.

Matt must be thinking ahead on this one, campaigns are expensive and he will have a serious candidate of color against him this time.

Sure is hot, where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?,

Brad

Brad Owens
4434
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Brad Owens 06/04/11 - 06:27 am
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countryman sez, "Corgimom..

countryman sez, "Corgimom.. Major developers are flocking to the proposed mix-use entertainment center..."

I guess there must be money in them for 'developers' huh?

catfish20
258
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catfish20 06/04/11 - 06:42 am
0
0
I would love to see the

I would love to see the stadium on the river.

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 06/04/11 - 07:19 am
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Those people who care about

Those people who care about Augusta and don’t have ulterior motives are plentiful on these boards. They point out reality when the spin has begun. Those who care about Augusta should consider the posters’ track record and think hard about committing more public money to a stadium. The wise posters here have pointed out what’s going on in these comments.

There are people who make millions off of county money spent on projects the posters can see the reality of past the organized deception. The naïve follow the leads of those orchestrating the flow of tax money into their projects believing “build it and they will come”…totally ignoring the realities of the city’s conditions.

Brad Owens
4434
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Brad Owens 06/04/11 - 07:20 am
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catfish20, Would you love to

catfish20,

Would you love to see a major tax increase to pay for it?

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 06/04/11 - 07:20 am
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We have the same motley crew

We have the same motley crew of mayor and commissioners who committed the future of Augusta with a $100 million boondoggle on the TEE. Those who profited greatly by the TEE construction actually came on here and laughed at those of us who had tried to warn what would happen. (By the way, how much has the court case cost you? My turn to laugh.)

As Corgimom points out, there are actually no significant bookings for the TEE. The one convention that was ballyhooed has been here before using existing facilities. The gentleman deciding where the group meets this year in Georgia is an Augustan. He would have booked it here no matter the facility is the truth. The idea it was played up shows the desperation THEY have about bookings. There are none. Know what the excuse will be? The TEE is not big enough and they need another zillion dollars to enlarge it.

A $100 million boondoggle (kind word actually, more a diversion of funds) that can be laid right at the feet of our mayor and commission. Those in the public who care, please listen to the other members of the public who care and comment here. The politicians and Chronicle had financial interests in the TEE. The money is gone and there’s nothing to show for it. Here we go again.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 06/04/11 - 07:29 am
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A blogger on the Columbia

A blogger on the Columbia News-Times website maintains that Columbia County has the highest bonded indebtedness of any county in GA. I wonder if this CN-T blogger considered the total bonded indebtedness of A-RC, the A-RC Development Authority, the DDA and the various other entities under whose names RC has accumulated bonded indebtedness.

And I don't want to hear that because I live in Columbia County, the bonded indebtedness of the various RC governmental agencies is none of my business. I have copies of personal checks drawn in payment of RC property tax bills to prove that assertion wrong.

Brad Owens
4434
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Brad Owens 06/04/11 - 07:34 am
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RM1, good post.

RM1, good post.

Brad Owens
4434
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Brad Owens 06/04/11 - 07:44 am
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This will never pass unless

This will never pass unless the State gives up that land. The way to fight this is through the State level reps. Seems that they don't care too much for the current commission make-up or actions so I feel that the best way to prevent this is to get them to block it at that level.

Brad

Brad Owens
4434
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Brad Owens 06/04/11 - 07:46 am
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By the way, I supported the

By the way, I supported the Stadium idea until TEE was shoved down our throat, after that, I said 'never again'.

They could have built two stadiums for what the TEE costs.

I will never support another big spending idea like this that takes so much and returns so little.

Brad

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 06/04/11 - 07:48 am
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Brad, thanks. I believe you

Brad, thanks. I believe you have picked up on Aitken's goals very well.

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 06/04/11 - 07:57 am
0
0
You know I'm like the poster

You know I'm like the poster above who said he would love to see a stadium on the river. I love baseball and would love to see one, too. Also, I'd love to have a great TEE Center.

Heck, I'd love all kinds of things being built. But I also know there are only so many dollars to spend and I want them spent in the most cost effective way while not being diverted to certain interests.

These guys could come up with a cock and bull story about constructing a hundred story building on Broad St. to draw businesses and some of the public would buy the spin.

Discussionstarter
495
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Discussionstarter 06/04/11 - 08:00 am
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Atlantic Station in Atlanta

Atlantic Station in Atlanta is having trouble! The voters said 'no' to the stadium. This state land should be given to MCG or ASU and let MCG / ASU expand... which will further strengthen downtown. This is the same concept that saved downtown Savannah... with Savannah College of Art & Design. There are higher priorities for the City of Augusta / Richmond County than a stadium!

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 06/04/11 - 08:28 am
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South Augusta folks.......ya

South Augusta folks.......ya gonna get it again.....tax$$$ going bye-bye!

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 06/04/11 - 10:03 am
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Discussionstarter, you make a

Discussionstarter, you make a good point. ASU should be encouraged to expand around the city. It is our forgotten gem. The Wrightsboro Rd complex should be limited to the athletic facilities. The quickest way to get thousands of young people living in the city again is via the college.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 06/04/11 - 10:08 am
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Expanding MCG into downtown

Expanding MCG into downtown would have a far greater economic impact than a money losing stadium. The state owns the property, MCG is a state university.. I say transfer ownership to MCG. I've never had a problem with a downtown stadium IF private developers wanted to pony up the money to build it, but all of the plans have centered on taxpayers footing the bulk of the bill. Maybe Joe Bowles would like to state where he stands on this issue. At a time where the city is having to cut back on basic services to close a budget gap, the mere thought of spending millions on a new ballpark is just silly.

Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 06/04/11 - 10:56 am
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Emerydan, I believe it would

Emerydan, I believe it would be better for ASU because colleges can more easily hop other areas to build. ASU is a state owned school, too. The College of Charleston has jumped all over Charleston to wherever available land is. ASU doesn't have enough space currently in the city. It has tremendous growth possiblities.

On the other hand, the medical college is more suited to a contiguous space. They are pretty big now, but if they expand the state should buy surrounding property.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 06/04/11 - 11:09 am
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Investing (liberal-speak for

Investing (liberal-speak for spending more tax dollars) in the downtown area isn't necessarily a bad idea. But timing is everything. IMO the city can't afford the tax breaks and infrastructure expenditures it would entail to make this project a reality. At least not until the economy improves.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 06/04/11 - 11:16 am
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I vote no for the baseball

I vote no for the baseball park. I also believe if it were that good then Mr. Ripkin should not mind borrowing and being responsible for the debt. My taxes are already high enough. MCG or ASU housing sounds like a good idea to me. Both would put people downtown.

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 06/04/11 - 11:24 am
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Funny how this is now being

Funny how this is now being called a multipurpose stadium, condominium, and retail complex. Were we not promised that the TEE Center would bring a Hyatt Place Hotel? When's the groundbreaking on that? Have the so-called developers secured financing yet? And condominiums? Yeah the Watermark and White's Building were just smashing successes wren't they. No bank is going to lend millions of dollars out in this economy for another big condo project downtown.. in just about every case someone has tried to develop a big condo project in downtown, the plans have stalled or fizzled or the money dried up. And retail? Well there are tons of empty buildings downtown, and its still a struggle for many small businesses downtown. And wasn't the retail component of Port Royal a complete flop? My suspicion is that the these terms are being floated around to make it appear that if taxpayers just pitch in $30 million that they will get so much more in private development.. but in the past that has never panned out, has it.. just like we are still waiting on that Hyatt Hotel. No this will be another boondoggle fully financed by the taxpayers (like TEE) with empty promises of private development that will never come true. Yeah, as someone else said, we might as well just throw $30 million dollars in pennies into the Surrey Center fountain.

countyman
20129
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countyman 06/04/11 - 11:27 am
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There's plenty of tax dollars

There's plenty of tax dollars circulating around South Augusta... The $30 million Vocational Magnet high school is underway next to the Augusta Tech campus.. If you ride down I-520 you will automatically notice the construction.. Consturction starts soon on the new boat ramp at the Lock & Dam Park..

The following parks all have new additions.. Jamestown Park, Meadowbrook Park, Mcbean Park, and the giant Diamond Lakes Park... There have been millions of dollars used to make Diamond Lakes a major regional park...

The $1 million Marshalls office is open on Deans Bridge rd.. The Morgan rd widening is underway and the city recently spent millions fixing Bungalow rd up..

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 06/04/11 - 11:33 am
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I seriously doubt there are

I seriously doubt there are six votes for this. I believe Grady Smith said during his campaign that he opposed using tax money to move the stadium downtown. If Joe Bowles voted for this he would look like a complete hypocrite (but then he voted for TEE.. so ya never know). If Guilfoyle votes for it, he can kiss reelection goodbye, as I am assuming this is not a popular thing on the southside of the county.. but then some people have suggested that Guilfoyle was backed by Copenhaver's group, so that's still an open question, but I seriously doubt he would vote for this. Matt Aitken is probably only pushing this because he is not planning on running for reelection, and pulling of another victory in heavily black Dist 1 is highly unlikely.

countyman
20129
Points
countyman 06/04/11 - 11:43 am
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The RC voters did not say no

The RC voters did not say no the stadium... A very tiny percentage of democrats voted against the idea.. The majority of democratic voters in Richmond County didn't get a chance to vote... No independents or republicans in Richmond County voted either... Once people realize the development is much more than a proposed stadium(hotels, retail, residential).. The tiny percentage who voted against it will change their minds..

The Watermark failed because of the national economy.. The economy in 2011 is much better than it was between 2007-2008...

The Whites Building along Broad street is a smashing success.. I believe 17 condos were finished before the bank in Atlanta had collapsed.. The other 34 condos(top floors) are under construction right now in the Whites Building.. The DDA wants to use the adjoining building for a parking deck where residents can access using the crosswalk. All of the windows at the Whites Building are being replaced.. They're fixing the roof along with other improvements to maintain the historic preservation status.. The grocery store Sundrees Market opened in early May.. The Tranta Lounge is coming soon next door to the Sundrees Market... Casa Blanca located in the Whites Building is one of the most popular spots downtown..

The developer behind the Hyatt, underground parking deck, and 3 story office building only needs a couple million more to secure financing..

ASU has expressed ZERO intrest in moving towards downtown Augusta... By 2015 the first building($28 million) built on the ASU west campus should be completed.. The building is located next to the University Villlage on Damascus rd... ASU officials have announced the West Campus(mainly wrightsboro/damascus rds) will be larger than the East Campus in Summerville in the future...

Why think so small?? GHSU expanding and the multi-use project can both happen downtown..

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