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Augusta officials say GreenJackets' move not a complete loss

Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 8:30 PM
Last updated Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 1:23 AM
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Though the Augusta Green­Jackets’ owners looked outside of Augusta for a new stadium when the team couldn’t get one here, most city officials don’t view the team’s decision to move across the river to South Carolina as a complete loss.

Deke Copenhaver: Mayor envisions water taxis taking fans across the Savannah.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
Deke Copenhaver: Mayor envisions water taxis taking fans across the Savannah.

“We worked for six years to try to build a financing model,” said Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who led a downtown stadium committee that sought public support, financing and land for a multipurpose stadium complex. “We weren’t able to get there, so I would much rather see a stadium in North Augusta than to see the team leave the area.”

An underlying theme in Augusta’s negotiations with the GreenJackets was always that the team might depart Augusta for a newer stadium. Other themes were lack of public support – Democratic voters panned the idea in a 2010 straw poll – and skepticism among Augusta Commission members reluctant to spend public money on the development.

Presenting North Au­gusta’s proposal for a $166 million riverfront hotel, conference center, retail and multipurpose stadium complex Wednesday, Mayor Lark Jones said it won’t move forward without public approval and private investment.

“We’re not going to strap it to the backs of the North Augusta taxpayers,” he said.

Instead, the city likely will rely on lease payments from the GreenJackets, ticket taxes plus tax increments resulting from the development to cover North Augusta’s 30 percent funding commitment, according to City Administrator Todd Glover.

Augusta and GreenJackets officials agreed Wednesday that the state of Georgia’s decision this year to transfer the former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Botanical Gardens site – diagonally across the Savannah River from the proposed North Augusta site – to Georgia Health Sciences University likely sent the GreenJackets looking for another riverfront site.

“The public owns that, and we would have had to spend at least $3 million just to acquire the property,” Augusta Commission member Jerry Brigham said of the golf hall site, which remains vacant. He cited the New York Giants’ move to New Jersey.

“Did New York lose any prestige?” he said. “If North Augusta wants to pay for (a stadium), that’s fantastic.”

Copenhaver said that the North Augusta project’s developers were the same as those who shopped for opportunities in Augusta and that the proposed development is remarkably similar.

Greenstone Properties’ Chris Schoen, who presented details about the multipurpose stadium facility to North Augusta residents Wednesday, included photos of a riverfront stadium development he is doing for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) TinCaps.

“I have always had a regional focus, and this actually moves the stadium closer to our city center,” said Copenhaver, voicing concern instead for what will become of the GreenJackets’ existing home at Lake Olmstead Stadium if the North Augusta deal goes through.

Envisioning water taxis hauling tourists across the Savannah for a ballgame, Copenhaver said the move requires Augusta to step up development along the river to benefit from what will become a regional attraction.

“They’ve got more leniency; they don’t have a levee,” commission member Joe Jackson said of North Augusta’s plans. “Evidently, we didn’t fit the mold they wanted so they went somewhere else. Certainly North Augusta may be more prepared.”

Commission member Corey Johnson said the two cities’ relationship means all will benefit.

“I think it will be a great thing,” he said, suggesting Richmond and Columbia counties join forces on an arena-style facility off Interstate 20 near the county line.

He said other communities such as Savannah, Ga., rely on water transportation between venues such as Savannah’s convention center, which is on an island that guests access by ferry.

“We’ve got to start thinking like a big city,” Johnson said.

Augusta businessman and sports enthusiast Ed Presnell, who was involved in many of Augusta’s stadium discussions, said that the stadium location makes no difference but that having a large, state-of-the-art venue will help the franchise stabilize and grow.

“The magnitude of this one, as it’s grown, will really benefit the whole region,” he said.

Less enthusiastic about North Augusta’s plan was commission member Matt Aitken, who championed the downtown project as a boon for his District 1. Aitken said the development’s 300 housing units will lure Augustans and even Columbia County residents away. It also could jeopardize pending hotel developments downtown, Aitken said.

“Look how fast they moved on it,” said Aitken, who recently lost a re-election bid. “We had the opportunity to do that and we missed it. It’s going to be a huge blow for Augusta.”

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fedex227
8498
Points
fedex227 12/19/12 - 10:09 pm
13
2

Talk about missing the boat.

"Envisioning water taxis hauling tourists across the Savannah for a ballgame, Copenhaver said the move requires Augusta to step up development along the river to benefit from what will become a regional attraction."

Has the Mayor ever attended a GreenJackets game? What idiot is going to drive to downtown Augusta, park their car there, walk down to the riverwalk, wait in line to catch a 'water taxi', pay the fare to cross the river just to attend a GreenJackets game- when they can just park in the stadium parking lot outside the stadium? It's not like it's going to be a 70,000-seat stadium where parkng will be a premium. Face it Augusta, you blew it.

my.voice
4194
Points
my.voice 12/20/12 - 12:05 am
11
0

“They’ve got more leniency;

“They’ve got more leniency; they don’t have a levee,” commission member Joe Jackson said of North Augusta’s plans. “Evidently, we didn’t fit the mold they wanted so they went somewhere else. Certainly North Augusta may be more prepared.”

Yeah Joe, that's it (not).

It couldn't possibly be that the venue's location was given to Adolf Azziz. Or the known fact that the "leadership" in Augusta is stuck on the color of ones skin rather than the good of the people.

countyman
16799
Points
countyman 12/20/12 - 01:19 am
2
13

Augusta is still going strong!

Columbia county and Aiken county don't have many black influential people in their county compared to Richmond. I don't think it's a fair comparison if the majority of people are white males. This is only in reference to the logic that somehow Columbia or Aiken is further ahead on racial issues. I did want this to happen on the Georgia side, but at least the project stayed in the metro.

I can't really blame Dr. Azziz for wanting to keep the GGHF site for the university. The recent(Dental School), ongoing(Medical Commons), and future(Cancer Center) projects equal over $300 million. The performing arts center and research building at the GGHF property could equal over $200 million worth investment possibly. Augusta ranked 2nd in high tech job growth from 2006-2011, and 12th from 2010-2011 in the nation. The Augusta side of the river will have the high paying jobs, student dorms, arts district(performing arts center, artist row, miller, imperial, le chat), renovated Fort Discovery(possibly more jobs), and you have the Watermark property/train depot.

itsanotherday1
34623
Points
itsanotherday1 12/20/12 - 01:54 am
5
3

I really DON'T understand

I really DON'T understand Azziz wanting the site. It is not connected to the medical complex. I would think he would have sought more surrounding property to have continuity and convenience to the MCG campus. The Wifesaver closed up. Fat Man's closed up. All of that property could be developed for MCG use. Since Paine is struggling, maybe some of their facilities/land could be combined, giving them some needed cash while expanding space for MCG. Lots of options within a stones throw.

countyman
16799
Points
countyman 12/20/12 - 02:16 am
2
12

The GGHF site is located in the CBD. Enough said!

The GGHF site is located in the CBD which is one of the most desirable places to live/work/play in 2012. New residential(JB White condo expanison, Johnson building, 1204 Broad, etc), and multiple businesses(Sprint Foods & Metro Market, Eros Bistro, Farmhaus Burgers,) underway. WAGT moved with WJBF into the Augusta West Plaza in West Augusta. The former WAGT building(almost 19k sq. ft.) was recently sold, and will become restaurant/meeting space. Even the Fort Discovery building is under ownership, and will become something new in the future.

20-25 year old people(which the new univrsity wants to attract) want to live in urban, pedestrian/bike friendly, close to shopping/nightlife, etc areas.

I think GHSU already owns the Fat Mans property, and the Wifesaver. I can't remember exactly, because Paine may own the Wifesaver. MCG also has property located in/around the Harrisburg neighborhood. The student dorms at the GGHF site are within walking distance of Broad street. Paine is getting ready to open a multi million dollar HEAL facility, and they want to expand in the future.

seenitB4
72619
Points
seenitB4 12/20/12 - 07:20 am
12
2

Choked on my coffee

Pleeeeze....the most desirable place in the CSRA..I'm choked ....I mean really......you are killing me with this fluff....

Just be glad the park is in the area...a win win for all....

rebellious
18707
Points
rebellious 12/20/12 - 07:48 am
7
1

I agree

let North Agusta start shouldering some of the cost for "entertainment" venues for a change. It sounds like they even have a plan to pay the city's portion without raising millage rates, which is something we never heard on this side of the river.

And why the flip do we still have a levee? Flooding threat is nonexistent with the addition of Clark's Hill Dam in 1954. The levee was built in 1908. It impedes the view of the river and is a major impediment to any effective riverfront facility to capitalize on the view. Corp of Engineers needs to be prompted to remove this useless pile of dirt!

rebellious
18707
Points
rebellious 12/20/12 - 08:06 am
3
0
Dixieman
10350
Points
Dixieman 12/20/12 - 08:15 am
8
0

Dixieman has 28 billion points

"Not a complete loss"? ROTFLMAO...funniest comment I have ever seen in the Chronicle!
I think this is actually what those Mayan calendars were predicting - basically the end of the world for the AUG!

countyman
16799
Points
countyman 12/20/12 - 09:07 am
1
9

I said 'one of the most', and

I said 'one of the most', and too many people living here it's the most desirable.

The real estate prices in the CBD are higher than North Augusta, closing in on Martinez, and only lower than West Augusta/Evans/Aiken/Forest Hils/Summerville.

You can't spin the facts!

Seenitb4. Since you considered my statement to be fluff?

Why don't the other areas in the CSRA?(Eros Bistro, Farmhaus Burgers, Sprint Food & Metro Market, Boars Head Public House, etc) have multiple restaurants opening or underway?

...point to ponder
641
Points
...point to ponder 12/20/12 - 09:08 am
9
0

“We worked for six years to

“We worked for six years to try to build a financing model,” said Mayor Deke Copenhaver......the deal across the river only took a few months to figure out and you couldn't put it together in 6 years...just quit!

The. Mayor did not do a very good job over 6 years.. Water taxis....are you kidding me? Is this how you think you will reap benefits from the stadium across the river?

This episode truly reflects the poor leadership we have in Augusta.

Riverman1
70543
Points
Riverman1 12/20/12 - 09:10 am
5
0

The levee should go.

Sissy Albert led a campaign a couple of years ago to do away with the levee. I had a hundred bumper stickers that I gave away and kept one on my truck. The levee should go.

Deke's little fairy tale about water taxis aside, this is a positive for the CSRA. I'm reminded of what Bob Young said when he was mayor and Columbia County was considering an arena. He said it would be fantastic because it benefits both counties.

We are a large community and unusual in that we are spread out across two states and several counties from Thomson to Aiken. It's hard to get everyone working together.

...point to ponder
641
Points
...point to ponder 12/20/12 - 09:15 am
6
0

Then the Mayor of Augusta is

Then the Mayor of Augusta is quoted "This actually moves the stadium closer to our city center"......Are you kidding me! This is how you try to put another positive spin on your failed administration.

The reality is you screwed up.

Riverman1
70543
Points
Riverman1 12/20/12 - 09:17 am
7
0

Fluff and Water Taxis

I won't be surprised if we get a comment one day that Joe Somebody has formed a corporation in Richmond County and its headquarters will be in his spare bedroom in his house in Harrisburg. The fluff can be overwhelming and off subject at times. It's almost frenetic from Deke and others since losing the stadium. Water taxis.

scorehouse
171
Points
scorehouse 12/20/12 - 09:16 am
1
0

when the levee breaks

Unpublished

mama you gots to move.....to North Augusta dat is

seenitB4
72619
Points
seenitB4 12/20/12 - 09:50 am
2
2

Let us be positive here

http://www.walkway.org/

Now..this is where a walkway would be beautiful...take a lookie/see at some......we are always slammed for being negative ...so I will take the high road & make lemonade out of this......if the yankees can build it we can too!!

scorehouse
171
Points
scorehouse 12/20/12 - 09:54 am
1
0

hey ms lemonade..

Unpublished

we already have a walkway. its called the 13th street bridge?

scorehouse
171
Points
scorehouse 12/20/12 - 09:57 am
1
0

13th street walkway...

Unpublished

used to be crowded on the weekends. soldiers from Fort Gordon would be dropped off downtown by militaty bus and then walk to the carolina side to party. locals did the same. at that time the drinking age in Carolina was 18 and still 21 in Jawjah

seenitB4
72619
Points
seenitB4 12/20/12 - 09:58 am
2
2

More pics of walkways/different state

http://www.flickr.com/photos/52787721@N00/900749305/

We could call it the Fluffway Bridge....or Runningbear Bridge...Sweetdove Bridge....

Little Lamb
40136
Points
Little Lamb 12/20/12 - 09:59 am
5
0

Concept Approval

Now that North Augusta has given a green light to Greenstone Properties’ plan, development company Greenstone will have to begin marketing the thing. First step will be to find someone to step up to the plate and own and operate the hotel. Do you think Paul Simon's company would be interested?

Whoever decides to own the hotel, they will get a conference center and parking deck thrown in for free, courtesy of taxpayers. Capitalism ain't what it used to be.

seenitB4
72619
Points
seenitB4 12/20/12 - 10:05 am
2
2

wowow

We could have speakers on the bridge with this music ....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9V-9dSPb_A

also some tv screens promoting the Masters & other golf events in the CSRA......just a few ...we don't want to overdo the tvs on bridge......have beautiful flower baskets cascading from bridge.......maybe a short video of the history of Augusta with some pics of the famous homes.........ooh the ideas & music I could plan for this bridge...:)

Riverman1
70543
Points
Riverman1 12/20/12 - 10:12 am
5
0

Little Pedal Boat For Deke

After Deke made his water taxis remark, the county should get him a little pedal boat to ride around in the river wearing his Speedos for warmth. The boat could even be trailered to the "pro" basketball games Augusta will have this year

single parent
395
Points
single parent 12/20/12 - 10:22 am
2
0

FAll Out

First off I apologize for the rant!
I see the big talk of developement and where things are going and who is being moved. Again it has never been thought of what happens to the people that were moved? The avaerage people being moved are not your garden variety 50k + salaried folks if you get my meaning. I will tell you where they are, moving next door to me! This guy wants to move Harrisburg and they cannot control the folks there now, so what happens when you spread them out? I will tell you, I spend a lot of time dialing 821-1080 for what I do not, because until somebody gets shot or mangled I hear "THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO" .
So is developement a good thing when it is only concerning business? Which was my whole point about giving people something to do concerning the stadium going to N Augusta. Now I know two people that are going to comment on this but here it goes again Tcenter and once a year golf event, is suppose to be are big saving grace! Most of that stuff the average Joe/Jill CANNOT afford either and they are NOT for "US" How many of "US" ( Augustians) actually get to go to the masters ( I am an ex entertainer and can barely pull those strings). When an event is to be hosted at the Tcenter exactlly how many of "US" are going to be able to host there? More importantly is this supposed new found wealth going to help me on calling 821-1080 or get my drain ditch behind my house maintained? It is nice to have businesses trying to come here but what is it doing if all the people who work at them move to Columbia county or Aiken county? Follow the money and follow the who and you will know why things "ARE NOT" getting done!
Oh by the way the reason these businesses are not expanding all over is because if you look around they are not even lasting that long and become Mom and Pops very quickly. It is very easy to sit behind a desk and not get in the jungle and feel the waves. That stadium should have been high priority just for the sake of the idea that we as a city were trying to get out of the good ole boy adminstration here. It is sad every one is defending and running their mouths about how great the city is and I can bet you the people making between 15 - 40k; 21 -50 are NOT staying in this area when entertainment is sought after! If you look at our downtown area it is setup like in the frigging 50's and its not beautifying its called choice living. Yeah I know, but I am here because I own three houses and refuse to move. It is not like the housing market is top Betty these days.
Look at Savanah Rapids that place is nice for its size and its clean, now go out to that nasty lock and damn, ridiculous!
I am sorry for the rage but I left and came back here many years ago because this place was suppose to be popping, but instead it is the same 1970's mess it was when I got here. I do not get into city government because I am not a nice guy when it comes to being lied to over obvious faults and would not want to be a felon for choking somebody! A lot actaully believe their own BS and that same BS has not fixed nor changed anything, just look around and tell me what we gained since 1985. A lot of lost venues A lot.....

Fools_and_sages
360
Points
Fools_and_sages 12/20/12 - 10:31 am
0
1

wow.

Unpublished

I love that the mayor asks if New York lost prestige when the Giants moved to New Jersey. Really? Comparing Augusta to New York and North Augusta to New Jersey is ludicrous. NJ and NY have much more interconnectedness than our two little cities here. Millions of people commute into New York from Jersey to work and for entertainment every day of the week. Unlike Augusta, New York also has much more to offer than just sports and some underwhelming restaurants. New York is a major tourist destination, with year 'round professional theater, world class museums, world class shopping, etc. New York is a world class city. Augusta is. . Augusta. People who think Augusta is all that and a bag of chips have never lived anyplace else.

The one thing Azziz has ever said that I actually agreed with is that Augusta isn't cool. While I would argue there are SOME cool things about Augusta (First Friday, Le Chat, The Masters), Augusta doesn't have a major sports team and we have a minor minor league hockey team and we just lost our minor minor league baseball team. Our major concert venue is too small to attract most top acts. We don't even have a major theater venue that doesn't involve folding chairs. We are the second largest metro area in GA. Other cities that hold that spot in their state have BIG international airports instead of a 4 gate airfield, AAA baseball, NHL hockey, NFL football, major museums, major theater venues, world class five star restaurants, etc. Overall, Augusta is not a hotspot for anything but maybe corruption and missed opportunity. This city should be so much more than a golf tournament, Le Chat, and First Friday.

justthefacts
17992
Points
justthefacts 12/20/12 - 10:46 am
2
0

B4's Bridge

The bridge over the Hudson is beautiful. Should note though, it is a former RR bridge. So, even though construction costs were mostly limited to transforming it, it still cost $40M. It is maintained by state funds. Seems a lot of money to spend for 200 people to cross for ball games that occur 30 or so times a year.

mike1sc
197
Points
mike1sc 12/20/12 - 10:53 am
7
1

A Win-Win? Which Playbook are you Reading From?

Everyone over on the Richmond County side is trying to provide a reasonable explanation concerning their lack of doing something for the downtown area, which has now been lost to their progressive neighbor across the river. Let's fast forward to late 2015 and listen in a Commission Meeting which is in full swing.......

"This is the 40th consecutive resolution which has failed. Next item?"

"Yes, next item on the agenda..."Noise coming from the other side of the river which is keeping our downtown residents awake at night." The kind of noise is listed here as being "Ca-ching.....ca-ching....ca-ching."

A vote from the Commission to draft a letter to North Augusta officials asking them to keep the "ca-ching" noises down failed on its final reading and so the item, the 41st consecutive one to fail, was put back on the shelf.

A drive over to the North Augusta new development area was depressing. The area was vibrant and folks were everywhere in the stores and the eateries.....it sure looks like North Augusta has some leaders who keep moving ahead on all its issues, and they seem to very happy in doing it.

In a related story, Commissioner Marion Williams' recommendation to dismantle Lake Olmstead brick by brick and to sell the bricks to downtown residents for $2.00 each, so the residents could keep a part of that stadium's history, has been reported earlier as having backfired. Residents who did purchase the bricks instead began throwing them on the Augusta Commission chambers. However, with only three bricks being sold, limited damage was received.

In another related story, the Commission was tied when trying to resolve the brick issue, but finally agreed on a related resolution about wearing hard hats in Commission Meetings until the brick issue could be resolved.

In the last story related to the new North Augusta area, this week marked the 14th downtown shop to close and relocate across the river to North Augusta. The "ca-ching" noise just gets louder and louder all the time.

scorehouse
171
Points
scorehouse 12/20/12 - 11:01 am
1
0

hello out there...

Unpublished

the 13 street bridge is already there. walk across it. fact is no one is going to walk across that bridge for night baseball games. why would you do that? leave your car in augusta to walk when you can park outside the stadium? don't see it happin

itsanotherday1
34623
Points
itsanotherday1 12/20/12 - 11:05 am
2
0

Most people around here would

Most people around here would not walk that far anyway.

seenitB4
72619
Points
seenitB4 12/20/12 - 11:12 am
3
1

More than just for ball watching...

Amenities
■There are picnic tables at both bridge approaches.
■There are benches at each of the bridge's three scenic overlooks.
■Rest rooms are available at either end of the bridge.
■Bike racks are available at both bridge approaches. Food and Beverage Concessionaires are also available at both approaches.
■The park offers interpretive signs at the bridge’s approach as well as along the railings. Select interpretive signs are linked to a free cell phone tour called, Talkway Over the Walkway.

Yall do realize N Augusta will promote other activities in their area......this is more than just ball.........yaknow there are some smarties on the other side of the river......just waiting for the money to flow.......I can see them making plans & smiling with glee.......rubbing their hands together right now...............as long as Augusta votes like they do now...they will have a field day ......it will be like taking candy from a baby..

seenitB4
72619
Points
seenitB4 12/20/12 - 11:25 am
2
2

Sometimes

You just have to let the train LEAVE the building......dressing up Laney-Walker was a no win deal......only a few will profit there.....THAT is the reason most Augustans won't go along with ideas coming from this commish......it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to get a thriving downtown with crazy waste of dollars......
The streets need cleaning & repair----south Augusta NEEDS attention in many ways.....crime elimination would be a good start.....I see diddly squat in any good decisions from the commish....sooo maybe a slapin the face is what they need....so be it!

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