Ripken set on downtown Augusta stadium

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Cal Ripken Jr. said Tuesday night that he is feeling a bit more positive about the future of minor league baseball in Augusta.

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Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. was applauded as the guest speaker at the 19th annual Greater Augusta Medals for Excellence in Sports banquet at Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites. Before the event, he addressed Augusta's stadium issue. 
  Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. was applauded as the guest speaker at the 19th annual Greater Augusta Medals for Excellence in Sports banquet at Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites. Before the event, he addressed Augusta's stadium issue.

The Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, whose Ripken Baseball Group owns the Augusta GreenJackets, re-emphasized his commitment to keeping the team in the Augusta market, but fielding it at Lake Olmstead Stadium isn't in his plans.

"Being downtown plays an important role in having hundreds of thousands of people downtown, which translates into businesses and life down in the city," he said before the Greater Augusta Medals for Excellence in Sports awards banquet. "If that weren't to happen, we'd look to alternative sites (within Augusta). We love the Augusta market. It's got such great potential."

Ripken's organization has had its eye on 16 acres of state-owned, riverfront property as the potential site for a multi-use facility with a new GreenJackets stadium. Original plans called for the city to acquire the land from the state, then work on a public-private venture to develop it.

Now the land, once home to the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, will go on the auction block after Gov. Sonny Perdue signs legislation passed two weeks ago that dissolves the hall.

"We definitely are encouraged by the progress," Ripken said. "It certainly hasn't gone exactly the way we had planned it, but stadium issues are complex."

The Jacoby Group, a development company working with the Ripken group, said it will bid on the land.

Jeff Eiseman, Ripken Baseball Group's vice president of baseball, said Augusta's role in a public-private venture remains unclear.

"We have not had formal conversations with the city," Eiseman said. "But in regards to the land being private, that hasn't really affected (our plans). We're glad it's gotten to this stage."

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Tufenuf
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Tufenuf 05/12/10 - 02:54 pm
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It is really sad that someone

It is really sad that someone like Ripken was asked to be the speaker at
this meeting. He apparently used it as a means to sell his desire for a new stadium. Worst of all he then repeated the threat that if he does not get a new stadium the team will move elsewhere.
Augusta does not need this type of person meddling in local affairs. The proposed stadium would of course be paid for by taxpayers, most of
whom will never even go by the stadium.
If Ripken and the mayor want this so badly why don't they simply buy
the land and fund it themselves. Leave the poor taxpayers out of this.

To Mr. Ripken and his threats to move the team - Go ahead - see who cares.

tckr1983
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tckr1983 05/12/10 - 02:56 pm
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Baron, ever been to Turner

Baron, ever been to Turner Field or Fulton County before it? Whats the knock on those? They're not downtown or close to anything that resembles the best place both should've/could've been built and they were not exactly surrounded by the safest of neighborhoods. Marta didn't make it over there, traffic and leaving is the pits...

Kinda sound like Lake Olmstead to you??? Minus the whole Marta part of of course...

tckr1983
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tckr1983 05/12/10 - 03:08 pm
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Tuf, did you READ the article

Tuf, did you READ the article at all? Ripken said the team was STAYING in Augusta... other sites within Augusta would be explored. I went to high school and graduated with Billy Byler, trust me.

Who else around/associated to Augusta sports has more name recognition that Cal Ripken Jr? That might have some reason to do with why he was ASKED to speak, huh?

Quit opposing things, just to oppose them. The stadium would not be funded completely by the taxpayers as you're making it out to sound. The team/developers would have to shell out a significant portion of the money. But if Jerry Brigham a comissioner says "We dont have the money to help build the stadium as a city right now." Then in the same news report, says "We might buy the land" for the 3M dollar asking price... what part of that makes sense?

Even if by some wild figment of the imagination, Cal came in here to "meddle" with local developements... maybe it's needed with the way some people think around here! This type of small minded thinking, got us the Civic Center/JBA. That's worked out well... uggh.

tckr1983
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tckr1983 05/12/10 - 03:10 pm
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Sorry for the repeat post. My

Sorry for the repeat post. My computer and the Chronicle's website are having issues. Anyone having the same problem? It's only on this website.

confederate american
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confederate american 05/12/10 - 03:20 pm
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tckr1983-didn't say anything

tckr1983-didn't say anything about houses,their are a lot of other things that could go down their,like river street in savannah.Savannah embraces it history we just stand by and watch ours rot. The leaders of augusta have NO VISION.

tckr1983
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tckr1983 05/12/10 - 03:55 pm
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Well that's what on the other

Well that's what on the other side of the river you're pumping up... Augusta has had problems the last few decades with doing anything, and in turn the city sat and sat and sat. Much was ignored and rotted, not just the historical part. Much of what would be Augusta's historical district (resembling savannah) burnt in the fire of 1916... so i guess we'll never know.

But as far as the leadership of Augusta standing by and letting the history rot... elaborate a little more for me. There's so much revitalization going on around Augusta, i'm having a hard time following. Just today, the Marion building, Augusta's "first skyscraper" has a brighter future and will be temporarily brought up to date for later developement.

River Street would be a good idea, except for the levee, i don't know how that would play out. But there is PLENTY of undeveloped land on reynolds street: between River Place Condominiums and 9th street (two city blocks) as well as the land on the river between 5th street and the Norfolk southern train bridge, beside st. paul's church.

This would also cost money too...

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 05/12/10 - 04:24 pm
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There is no doubt this would

There is no doubt this would help all of downtown and the ball team.

Too bad we spent $100,000,000.00 on the TEE huh? I mean we could build the stadium FOUR times for that money.

I think this is a done deal now. Just my opinion but it seems that Cal will buy the property and put forward a public-private partnership proposal with bonds issued by the DDA and reprogrammed SPLOST monies to round it all out. If I had to bet.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 05/12/10 - 04:27 pm
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Southern Patriot, Marion

Southern Patriot,

Marion Williams was a huge supporter of downtown. He attended most all of the First Friday events, he would bring his beautiful German Shep down and walk up and down Broad.

Could your problem with Marion be the color of his skin maybe? Here's a hint on the answer, it's in your name.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 05/12/10 - 04:30 pm
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I think Coco's opinion should

I think Coco's opinion should be considered because of his success downtown and his direct conection to the mid 90's spike in business and redevlopment.

reader54
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reader54 05/12/10 - 04:52 pm
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First of all, there is a

First of all, there is a limit to the majority of the baseball patron's disposable income. We are in the "Mother of all Recessions" with no end in sight. After buying tickets, souvenirs, food and drink at the stadium, how many are going to go and continue to eat and drink downtown? The folks with children aren't. The Columbia County residents, that have more income than most, aren't going to hang out downtown and drink and then drive all the way home. Do you or don't you want drunk drivers on the road? Everything that glitters isn't gold. This is prime land and if a ballpark fails then what happens?

olandohamlettsr
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olandohamlettsr 05/12/10 - 05:03 pm
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What about the stadium that

What about the stadium that was built for Mr. Ripken in Aberdeen, MD, the tax payers in this community are still paying for his stadium.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 05/12/10 - 06:14 pm
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olando, What about it? Brad

olando,

What about it?

Brad

cleanup
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cleanup 05/12/10 - 06:30 pm
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Build it downtown!

Build it downtown!

tckr1983
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tckr1983 05/12/10 - 06:37 pm
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http://www.forbes.com/2006/08

http://www.forbes.com/2006/08/01/cal-ripken-big-bet-cx_tvr_0802ripken.html

Aberdeen Maryland is home to 14,000 people and supported the building of a 21M stadium with Cal Ripken supplying 7M of that himself. This was at the beginning of his business venture into developing minor-league baseball and camps/clinics/tournaments for kids. Since then, he has been largely successful in doing so and has a partner in his future plan here in Augusta. Translation: if they want it bad enough, and they do... they'll (Ripken and co.) will get it done, with whatever it takes from himself included.

A "city" of 14,000 in Maryland built a 21M stadium... a city of 200,000+ with a metro of 700,000+, such as Augusta can't afford something similar? Cal Ripken has a partner in his Augusta plan that will be supporting the project as well... both will be posting their fair share of money into this, with the city pitching in as well. Just like the saying goes... you don't get something for nothing. The commission just passed another 8M into Laney Walker developement on top of the 38 or 40M they had already approved... so, don't believe everything you hear when the city says they're "penny-pinching"... they're just keeping their cards as close as possible to have to pay as little as possible towards this multi-use facility. Keeping those against it as happy as possible and those who want it, actually get to see it come to fruition.

And even though there is a recession right now, NOBODY knows if we are in fact still in a recession/coming out of it/emerging from it. It depends on who you ask, a democrat or a republican. I do know that Augusta's economy is a rather safe bet compared to almost anywhere else in the nation... driven by a huge medical industry, government jobs and a large military contingent... it's one of the fastest recovering economies in the nation and largely outperformed the two-state in unemployment rates.

As far as drunk drivers go, they happen unfortunately. It's not just a problem within the Augusta Greenjackets fanbase. An extreme minority of fans at any of the home games downtown would do something as stupid as that.

I can't understand why anyone would be against something as impactful as this facility would be for Augusta. Like I said, it's been successful many times over already for other cities. It's a VACANT lot on one of the best pieces of land in Augusta, an eyesore. I don't see any other plans in the works for this piece of land besides Mr. Millar's version (which still leaves land for a baseball stadium to be built). There are still other pieces of riverfront land that could support something down the road in terms of growth... river street, maybe the water mark will come back... but they're not even in the planning stages right now. The ball park is however, along with the Hotel, shopping, business and housing associated with it.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 05/12/10 - 06:42 pm
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The local government wasting

The local government wasting money on other needless project is not a sufficient justification to waste even more on a baseball stadium.

How many non-baseball events that people like to tout will be at this new stadium have been or are being held at the current stadium?

disssman
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disssman 05/12/10 - 07:04 pm
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Does Cal live in Augusta

Does Cal live in Augusta Richmpnd county? I asked the question to make sure he is a local "stakeholder" and not an alien intruder into the royal space.

tckr1983
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tckr1983 05/12/10 - 07:08 pm
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Baron... do you ever answer

Baron... do you ever answer the questions others impose on you? Or just comment on ones you like to pick out?

I guess Augusta wouldn't be doing ANYTHING if it was up to you? We should have just left the run down neighborhood to fend for itself?
Like i said, i can understand some people being against it... but not to the extent of the outlandish "what if's" many are throwing out there to disagree with it.

Tell me how this MULTI-USE facility is "wasting money" on a current vacant lot, producing no return... excluding just your opinion on the matter. I've been to a few concerts at Lake Olmstead, so? You don't think a state of the art stadium, on the river/downtown wouldn't entice more to come there to play? Like i said, it's not just a stadium that will be on the property... people will be around the area on Reynolds Street 24/7/365.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 05/12/10 - 07:13 pm
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How many of the naysayers

How many of the naysayers have been to a city, small or large, that has a baseball stadium located centrally in its downtown? My guess is not many. Ever been to Camden Yards in Baltimore, Petco Park in San Diego, AT&T Park in San Francisco, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Huntington Park in Columbus, OH, Autozone Park in Memphis, TN, Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, PA?

All these ball parks, and many more, were built on prime downtown property and near or directly on the water. They have transformed these cities culture. Even when it's not baseball season, people are still there. They are there for other events or just sitting outside the outfield wall having lunch or reading a book. This will be the same at the new stadium in Downtown Augusta which will incorporate Riverwalk, the Gardens and surrounding businesses.

Build It Downtown!

tckr1983
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tckr1983 05/12/10 - 07:31 pm
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I'm pretty sure he doesn't

I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a residence here, maybe he does?

Outside of the Augusta National, the Greenjackets carry the torch for Augusta's professional sports. While the others have ceased operations or folded... they've consistently brought professional baseball to our city. He's invested millions into the Greenjackets/charities/community around Augusta. I don't see how he isn't a local stakeholder... with so much invested. Have you seen all the remodeled houses on the way into lake olmstead? I could only imagine what opposing teams thought about the city before Cal remodeled all of those...

See what i'm saying? Cal is loved in Baltimore but in Augusta some think he's a circling vulcher? I don't get it... Yea, he's a businessman and is hoping to make some profit... but what's good for him is also good for the city and its people. It's a mutual interest.

He's not Montgomery Burns people! : )

tckr1983
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tckr1983 05/12/10 - 07:38 pm
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It doesn't matter if he has a

It doesn't matter if he has a residence here or not...

Are we knocking on the developer of the Tee Center and Hyatt Place hotel to make sure they have a house here in Augusta before they start construction? They'll be looking to make profits here in Augusta too and on prime real estate downtown as well... heck, call up Kroc, see if they own a house here...

sassygirl12
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sassygirl12 05/12/10 - 08:17 pm
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i say go for it. its gonna

i say go for it. its gonna happen anyways whether we want it or not. i cant wait for it to happen. the crime rate is really gonna sky rocket now, mark my words. look where they want to put it

corgimom
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corgimom 05/12/10 - 09:07 pm
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"The taxpayers, if asked to

"The taxpayers, if asked to foot SOME of the tab... would more than make up for it through tax money earned through local businesses downtown. "

Come to Charlotte. Find out how that didn't happen. And an article recently ran in the Observer that talked about the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which was supposed to bring in tons of tax revenue, be immensly popular, draw thousands of tourists, and be a huge asset, is severely underfunded and will need more taxpayer money. And ask Charlotteans about the Whitewater Center- that was supposed to bring in tons of tax revenue, be immensly popular, draw thousands of tourists, and be a huge asset, has turned out to lose thousands of dollars per year, defaulted on their loan, and is going to cost taxpayers thousands to operate.

And Charlotte is also looking at a 50% reduction in its libraries come July 1st.

Here's the bottom line. If Augusta wants to build a ballpark, then go ahead- but what needs to be asked is, "What WON"T be funded if the ballpark is built? What would be given up to build the ballpark?" The never-ending fountain of money is gone. There is a limited amount of money to go around. At some point, Augustans will have to choose.

Augusta looks closely at Charlotte. Charlotte is ahead of Augusta- it always has been- and Mecklenburg County is experiencing a severe budget crisis. So will Augusta.

So- what are taxpayers willing to forego to have a ballpark?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/12/10 - 09:28 pm
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Ripken Stadium at Aberdeen

Ripken Stadium at Aberdeen should not be used as an example of the benefits that could arise from the stadium. They had major problems and the city tried to sell it later due to costs.

State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, who represents the area, said, "By everyone's admission, it was a bad deal for the city."

Having said all that, I'll bring up a point for the stadium that has not been mentioned on this thread. ASU and the state could take over Lake Olmstead Stadium. That would be a big plus for ASU's baseball team.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/12/10 - 09:57 pm
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This is a news article from

This is a news article from about two years ago concerning Ripken Stadium that I will paraphrase. Ripken’s Tufton Professional Baseball Group plays hard.

The 7-year-old stadium, has nearly bankrupted the city with debt and maintenance fees.

The problems have been magnified because a small shopping complex that was anticipated to have been built next to the stadium never materialized. The city never received the anticipated annual.

Aberdeen had to renegotiate its contract with Ripken Baseball in 2008. Ripken is in this for the money even though he is a nice guy™ (I had to borrow Deke's trademark. Hope he's not mad.)

Hey, if y'all build it I'll come, but you had best be careful. All the evidence points against the stadium being a financial success, but, heck, I pointed that out with the TEE, also, and that didn't stop them.

http://www.daggerpress.com/2007/12/29/room-fees-parking-charges-taxing-d...

stephr721
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stephr721 05/12/10 - 10:12 pm
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If they don't try to milk

If they don't try to milk taxpayers for a stadium, I'm sure they'll benefit from some nice tax subsidies to offset the costs instead. I'm all for a stadium downtown (and the development plan), but I don't think that property is a great spot for it. Meh. Hope the businesses on Broad Street can continue to thrive and that a bunch of boring chains don't take over.

blkmktgreg
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blkmktgreg 05/12/10 - 10:16 pm
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"Could your problem with

"Could your problem with Marion be the color of his skin maybe? Here's a hint on the answer, it's in your name." Brad, with that comment you have demonstrated your own brand of bigotry. Was "southern" or "patriot" that makes you consider him a bigot. Perhaps we can focus on actual comments and not labels. I still believe that Ripkin Baseball should demonstrate that they can afford repairs to their scoreboard before the tax payers fund any of their future projects. I would also like to see the exact parking plan and possible costs to the patrons for the privilege of seeing a baseball game downtown. Currently parking is free and is within close walking distance of the stadium. If anyone attempts to call any of the downtown Atlanta stadiums a success for the fan, I would have to disagree. The parking is expensive and sometimes a pretty substantial hike. I love downtown Augusta and would like to see it flourish, but a win-win situation should be created for the fans and the city.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/12/10 - 10:24 pm
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Marion Williams has to be the

Marion Williams has to be the biggest obstructionist in the history of Augusta. Have we forgotten his antics? It was one fiasco after another. The whole CSRA should have a problem with him regaining a Commission seat.

tckr1983
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tckr1983 05/12/10 - 10:32 pm
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My fiancee and I went to the

My fiancee and I went to the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte last June. The place was packed and we had a blast. I think it's location has a large part to do with it. It's well outside of town and we drove 35+ minutes from our hotel to get to it. I know it's more than just a whitewater rafting center with bike trails, climbing courses and zip lines... more than Augusta could ever support, but it was an awesome experience. Youre not going to get a project the size of the rafting center THAT close to the city, seemed a little out of the way.

You're right, Augusta is well behind Charlotte, that's not up for debate. BUT, more times than not, a ballpark/downtown facility such as this has worked out for the better. Charlotte might be one example, but Chattanooga, Greenville, Greensboro and Rome citizens have benefited from their new parks. Planning is huge in these projects, in this day and age every penny spent will be under a magnifying glass. Especially around Augusta.

Sassygirl-
My brother is a deputy for Richmond County, that area is his beat, C-North. One of the safest areas that the ballpark could be put is at that location on Reynolds Street. It could happen, but i doubt it. It could also be said that having that many more people in the area could make it an even safer place.

reader54
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reader54 05/12/10 - 11:39 pm
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Look, #1: this is a flippin

Look, #1: this is a flippin single A team so don't compare it to major league venues. Undoubtably, this plan would be a major coup for Ripken Inc. but very doubtful to the downtown businesses. Sure, it will be an asset to downtown simply because downtown doesn't have anything novel or exciting. I'm just saying that, yeah, it would be nice to have a stadium downtown but don't be surprised if the touted economic projection never reaches the hype. Ripken Baseball will make money but if it doesn't help Augusta then you are stuck with a successful team but a disappointed business assoc. Just my 2 cents.

tckr1983
360
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tckr1983 05/13/10 - 12:17 am
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Look, wop genius... #1: Who

Look, wop genius...

#1: Who is comparing anything in Augusta to a Major League venue? It certainly isn't me... and last time i checked, Charlotte doesn't have a MLB team... the cities I listed ARE all homes to minor league teams: Nooga, Greenville, Greensboro and Rome. Are they not?

#2: You're comparing Charlotte to Augusta... dunno where that came from. Sorry for complimenting your city or former city. The Castle, home of your flippin' AAA squad is 20 minutes outside of town and a poorly designed stadium with many of the seats WELL away from the action. HARDLY a "DOWNTOWN" stadium (which is the topic of this story/thread), dontcha think? The stadium for your AAA Charlotte Knights is not even in North Carolina for gosh sakes! It's in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Good news though, they're already talking about/wanting to build ANOTHER ballpark for the Knights, closer to DOWNTOWN, so good luck with that.

#3: Yes, it would be a great draw and venue for DOWNTOWN Augusta as it is becoming the DOWNTOWN of the past. Sorry, for being excited about something that will be a benefit to the DOWNTOWN area and has been done successfully elsewhere in cities of similar sizes to Augusta.

#4: There will be an impact in the DOWNTOWN area for businesses. To what degree, we'll hopefully find out. But having 4,000 people coming (probably more with a new stadium on the river) for every home game... there will certainly be a fraction of people spending money DOWNTOWN after the game. Do we expect it to be the Superbowl? No. Do we expect it to be a under-water basket weaving seminar? No, but somewhere in between.

Dont play it off like "the Castle" smackdab in the middle of uptown/downtown Charlotte like Bank of America Stadium is...

Have a good one.

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