Stadium issue to go on 2012 ballot

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Augusta voters might get to express an opinion next year whether a baseball stadium should be built along the riverfront.

After a motion Tuesday authorizing City Administrator Fred Russell to move forward with "exploring options" for city participation in a $38.7 million deal to build a multipurpose stadium-shopping-condominium complex failed 5-4, the Augusta Commission approved Commissioner Alvin Mason's motion to place the issue on the 2012 general election ballot.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham, questioning the legality of the commission's placing any questions on a ballot, abstained from the vote, which was approved 6-2. Commissioners Joe Bowles and Joe Jackson voted no.

Brigham, who said he opposed the idea of public funding for a downtown stadium, had been open to Russell's having "a freewheeling discussion about the future of baseball in Augusta" with private developers, including the Ripken Baseball Group, owner of the Augusta GreenJackets. Brigham's motion failed 5-4, with Mason and Commissioners Bill Lockett, Wayne Guilfoyle and Grady Smith opposed.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver led 2008's Downtown Stadium Exploratory Committee, a team of about 24 that pushed for building a stadium complex for the GreenJackets on the former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame property. Ripken Baseball, Jacoby Development and the mayor's office submitted a proposal for the development that year to the state properties commission, which owns the riverfront land.

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countyman
21684
Points
countyman 06/08/11 - 12:02 am
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Retail, restaurants, condos,

Retail, restaurants, condos, hotels and a baseball stadium sounds good too me. It's definitely much better than the current vacant lot. The state needs to hurry up and let Augusta move on with our prime real estate.. We can finally have a year round tourist destination located in the heart of downtown.. The city of Augusta averages 1.5 million visitors per year.. The Riverwalk is one of the main attractions in the city.. There's already the ampitheatre, museum, restaurants, condos, Tee Center, 8th street Plaza, 8th street bulkhead stage, and a park along the Riverwalk..

Two major developers in Jim Jacoby and Cal Ripken want to invest millions into downtown Augusta..

Riverman1
94246
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Riverman1 06/08/11 - 04:22 am
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0
The wording of the question

The wording of the question on the ballot will be most important to prevent the cabal from circumventing the wishes of the people. Remember the voters approved a $20 million boondoggle TEE Center that ended up costing over $100 million. I have no doubt the voters will not approve the stadium.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 06/08/11 - 04:33 am
0
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Here is why the $20 million

Here is why the $20 million TEE Center was approved by the voters and the stadium won't be. The Chronicle company was in the food chain with the TEE, being guaranteed millions over the years for basically keeping the key to the building. They pushed for the boondoggle TEE.

They don't get anything from the stadium and their editorials have been against it. If the question is worded favorably and doesn't leave room for Deke and company to work around it and still give county money away, it will never pass.

Austin Rhodes
3002
Points
Austin Rhodes 06/08/11 - 06:06 am
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0
The city cannot put straw

The city cannot put straw polls on the ballot, they have no authority. All they can do is ask the two political parties to do that, it is up to them to decide. I am amazed only Jerry Brigham knew the law on this...he is an invaluable resource on such matters.

Clemintime
202
Points
Clemintime 06/08/11 - 06:23 am
0
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Jerry Brigham will be missed

Jerry Brigham will be missed when his term on the commission expires.

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 06/08/11 - 07:42 am
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The voters said NO

The voters said NO already...the stadium they play in is new and very nice...let Ripken pay for it with his own money. Augusta residents are taxed enough!!!

Dudeness
1546
Points
Dudeness 06/08/11 - 07:46 am
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How many times do we have to

How many times do we have to vote on this before they accept our answer?

dichotomy
37616
Points
dichotomy 06/08/11 - 08:45 am
0
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I guess the rich guys that

I guess the rich guys that own all of that property around where they want to put this thing just will not let this pig pickin' be canceled. They are determined to pull more pork from the hide of the taxpayers. How about it South Augusta and rural South Richmond County? Don't you feel like helping pay for the "movers and shakers" of Augusta to build this monstrosity and make a tidy profit off of their property down there? The same people already took you to the cleaners for the TEE center. Organize against this thing now and send them a message in 2012. No more taxpayer money for downtown boondoogles that benefit only the downtown ruling class. Nothing for a ball park and no more SPLOST until we see some development in South Richmond County and until we see some reorganization and spending reductions in our county government. The last thing in the world South Richmond County taxpayers need is for their tax money to be spent on another downtown project. Nothing they have snookered us into supporting in the last 15 years has helped South Richmond County in any way, including Consolidation. Organize now and vote against this crazy ball park project and against any future SPLOST until we see some progress in government efficiency and some development on our end of the county. And Countyman, by development I am NOT talking about an Algae facility for producing biodiesel. We have enough algae, mold, rot, and decay on this end of the county now already. Come on folks, it's common knowledge that we have the absolute worst government, worst commission, and worst city charter in the entire southeast and maybe the whole country. Let's quit giving them our tax dollars until we see some progress. Any dollars you voluntarily give to this crew of clowns you might as well take down and throw in the Savannah River. Vote NO on EVERYTHING until we can elect a mayor with some leadership and a whole new commission that doesn't wear their stupidity with so much pride and arrogance. Maybe that will never happen and, if so, we should withhold our tax dollars forever. Maybe South Augusta and South Richmond County are going to die no matter what and, if that is the situation, then it can die without them taking more of my money and giving it to the rich guys downtown.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 06/08/11 - 10:30 am
0
0
The straw question is going

The straw question is going to be on the general election ballot, not the primary ballot. The parties obviously can't put things like that on the general ballot, but possibly the government can.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/08/11 - 10:35 am
0
0
Id imagine if it was a local

Id imagine if it was a local referendum it could be done. It would have to be binding, im sure. Just like ordinances that are voted on, such as Sunday sales. Election law is strange, for sure.

countyman
21684
Points
countyman 06/08/11 - 10:39 am
0
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Most of the comments who are

Most of the comments who are against the idea live outside of RC not a surprise..

The voters in RC didn't get a chance to vote on the mix-use entertainment center idea yet..

14% of democratic voters were the only people who got to vote.. Then they said they wanted to put the idea on the ballot if public money was involved..

Imagine if the TEE center was approved by 14% of democratic voters.. The same people who bring the center up daily would always remind us the majority of voters didn't get a say on the TEE..

The entertainment project goes along great with the educcation and road construction underway/planned for the area..(Alexander rd, Windsor Spring, Wrightsboro, Mike Padgett, Belair rd, Morgan rd, Saint Sebastian)... The new $30 magnet high school under consruction in South Augusta is another great project..

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 06/08/11 - 11:31 am
0
0
Apartment dwellers who live

Apartment dwellers who live in Richmond County don't have much stake in paying the bills.

The TEE was approved for $20 million by the voters. After bribe attempts and shenanigans that tainted the process (Joe Bowles said the process was tainted.) and $100 million we are left with a boondoggle money pit that can't find any events to rent the place. It has one convention scheduled for A YEAR AND A HALF AFTER OPENING scheduled so far. The same event has been here before using existing facilities and the number of attendees is not expected to increase. They were coming back anyway. Barry White, director of the CVB, now says they are going after local events. Everyone feel like they have been violated now?

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 06/08/11 - 11:13 am
0
0
riverman. They think they

riverman. They think they don't but when the rent goes up they'll scream & moan about being "targeted" and how evil their landlords are - when in fact they are just covering their costs - which are continually rising.

It's amazing how many people make decisions without thinking through the consequences. (which is how obama was elected)

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 06/08/11 - 11:16 am
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0
Chillen, true..... I was

Chillen, true..... I was referring to a specific apartment resident who graces these boards with his optimistic view.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/08/11 - 11:33 am
0
0
I live well inside RC, for

I live well inside RC, for now. That might change if my tax money is used for a ballpark.

Frank I
1204
Points
Frank I 06/08/11 - 11:38 am
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0
it's not just a ball park

it's not just a ball park Taylor.. It's a mixed use facility, that also included additional commercial and residential area.. more jobs and more income to the community..

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 12:09 pm
0
0
Good for the commissioner who

Good for the commissioner who voted against this stadium thing. And it appears that Mr so-called fiscal conservative Joe Bowles was on the wrong side again. Isn't he the guy who says that the city must cut as much as possible from the budget rather than raise taxes? But yet here he seems to support the plan to move forward with a taxpayer funded stadium, and voted against the voters having a say. Hypocrisy at its finest. So far I have been very impressed with Smith and Guilfoyle. This needs to be made a binding referendum.. make it a bond referendum and see how the public responds (that is completely legal under state law)..I can guarantee you the vote will be overwhelmingly negative, and it should settle the issue once and for all.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/08/11 - 12:29 pm
0
0
Frank I, we will have to

Frank I, we will have to disagree on this one, which still makes you right on 99% of everything else.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 12:36 pm
0
0
Why is there any action on

Why is there any action on this at all? It would have been one thing if Ripken and Jacoby had come to the city with a specific proposal that had changed from their previous one.. this time with them paying the bulk of the costs instead of taxpayers. I have not seen anywhere that they have changed their proposal..from wanting taxpayers to pony up 90% of the costs. So put it on the presidential ballot as a binding bond referendum and see what happens.. with a city in the red borrowing $40 million against property taxes to build a ballpark.. I can't wait to see the vote totals on that. And weren't we told by Austin a month before last years mayoral election that there was a big announcement about the ball park from Ripken and Jacoby that would be a "game-changer".. but that announcement never came... so really nothing has changed.. they still want the taxpayers to build them a new ballpark. Any commissioner worth his salt who has been listening to his constituents knows the sentiment is heavily against this from the general public.. you don't really need a referendum to figure it out, but if that's what it takes then so be it. It's up to Ripken and Jacoby to come up with a proposal that makes sense..they have so far not done that, but are instead setting ultimatums on the commission (sounds an awfully a lot like the TEE Center). They want to punt this over to Russell as a means to circumvent the voters.. hoping Russell can bury it in a SPLOST (where it may stand a better chance unnoticed), or tack it onto the the already tapped out hotel-motel tax.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 06/08/11 - 12:38 pm
0
0
If the public can vote on the

If the public can vote on the stadium it won't leave David Fry (and the people he works for) anyone to bribe.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 06/08/11 - 12:43 pm
0
0
Matter of fact, if we are

Matter of fact, if we are going to have a referendum, let's put on there if we should immediately stop work on the TEE which will save the $100 million costs which is far more than the voters previously approved.

Stop the constrution, tear down what's already built, sell the scrap metal at the recycle place, plow the earth under, salt it and stomp on it like it was a roach on the Riverwalk.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/08/11 - 01:14 pm
0
0
Well, voting for this is a

Well, voting for this is a true plus for mob rule democracy, but Im pretty sure the mob will rule against the ballpark.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 01:22 pm
0
0
well Taylor, I can see your

well Taylor, I can see your point, but if we had commissioners who were listening to their constituents and had any fiscal common sense then this would have been settled long ago.. no public money for a ball park period! If the "investors" want to buy that property and build their ballpark condo project then more power to them, but all along they have wanted the taxpayers to cover 90% of the costs. Make it a binding bond referendum.. put the dang thing on the ballot and let the voters settle it once and for all.. and don't worry, it will go down in flames.. but it won't cost anything to put it on the gen election ballot. If its such a great idea then put it before voters as a bond question and see what happens.

jleyes
24
Points
jleyes 06/08/11 - 01:42 pm
0
0
where do you get your info

where do you get your info from Emery? When has Ripken ever been quoted as wanting the tax payers to pay 90% of the freight. Show us the link to a credible article. I will bet you can't because it has never been said by Ripken...ever. Yesterday the Ripken group was merely asking to work with the city to develop a financing plan, they weren't asking for a fully or 90% funded public project, they merely want to work with the city to see what is feasible from both sides. Even if they strike up a plan it would still have to come before the commission. Why kill an idea that could create jobs, make downtown vibrant and take advantage of the water front for community use (shops and restaurants as well as concerts and ballgames) not be considered worthy of at least exploring what it would mean financially for both sides? Also there are funding instruments that don't tax local residents or are tied to G.O. bonds. Instead lets kill an idea that costs nothing to explore the viability surely that makes businesses eager to relocate and work with our government.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 01:47 pm
0
0
Jlreyes.. that has always

Jlreyes.. that has always been the proposal.. and so far that has not changed, atleast the ripken-jacoby group has not brought forth a new proposal.. the only thing we have from them so far is their original proposal calling for 90% public 10% private. They have had ample time to come back before the commission and present a new plan.. they have not done so. This has been explored for over 4 years now.. and the ball has always been in the court of ripken-jacoby to come forward with a better proposal with them paying the bulk. The commission has previously rejected their plans calling for the public paying for the bulk.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 01:54 pm
0
0
And you may have had some

And you may have had some support financing this thru the hotel-motel tax BEFORE that was tapped out by the TEE Center. They already have close to $100 million in the hotel-motel tax devoted to the TEE - Laney Walker project.. so forget that source of revenue. The whole idea that ballparks revitalize downtown areas is pure hogwash.. The last thing that Augusta needs is another money pit white elephant downtown taking money away from other worthy projects.

jleyes
24
Points
jleyes 06/08/11 - 01:55 pm
0
0
Again Emery - where is this

Again Emery - where is this proposal? They never brought a proposal forth asking for 90%. Who seems to have a copy of said proposal from Ripken? There is no original plan, just people on message boards propheysing about what Ripken's committment is. Second yesterday was the first time anything regarding this project was brought to the commission. So again give me the date of the commission meeting where this project was dismissed previously? Good luck finding that as well. I will agree this has been explored for 4 years but a finance plan has not be developed for a public-private partnership that was the intent of yesterday's agenda item.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 02:39 pm
0
0
Oh yes they have.. they mayor

Oh yes they have.. they mayor did a cpl of years ago and it was rejected by the entire commission.. where have you been? This issue has been around for over four years. It went away for a while because it was obvious that the commission was not going to play ball the way Ripken and Jacoby wanted. They were essentially told to go back to the drawing board and if they had a plan that didn't require the public footing the bulk of the bill (ie $38 million) then there could be some further discussion. But Ripken-Jacoby have never come forward with another proposal. What they want to do is get Russell involved to find "creative ways" for the public to fund that $38 million.. like burying it in a SPLOST or tapping out more of our hotel-motel taxes (which are ultimately backed by property taxes). Click on the related stories on the left hand side, you will see this is NOT the first time this has come before the commision.

Brad Owens
4920
Points
Brad Owens 06/08/11 - 02:53 pm
0
0
jleyes, You're right,

jleyes,

You're right, Emerydan is wrong, they wanted the tax payer to pay for 95% of the construction costs as well as issued double barrel bonds to pay for it all.

I was IN rhe commission meeting when the Ripken plan was put forward and the mayor led the charge. They only offered a little over $2,000,000.00 on what will be a $40,000,000.00 project. I don't need an article, I was IN the meetings.

Also, I was on the DDA when the plan was first proposed and that was the ONLY offer ever put forward by the owners of the team. Period.

So emerydan is almost correct, they don't want 90% shouldered by us with general obligation bonds, they want 95% paid for by us.

It is a Public Private Partnership, the cost is for the "public" part of the partnership, and the bennies are for the Private side of it.

If they had shifted the 20mil form the TEE from SPLOST and asked for 20mil in bonds for the otherside, I would have supported it. But now that they have TEE I refuse to guive them one more red cent for a huge revenue taker.

Brad

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/08/11 - 03:02 pm
0
0
Thanks for the correction

Thanks for the correction Brad.. This is a case where I don't mind being told I was wrong

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