Minor League Baseball Talks Continue in Macon

4:10 PM, Sep 26, 2013   |    comments
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Thursday morning, consultants sat down with the Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority to discuss the possible impact of bringing in a minor league baseball team.

For example, Greenville, South Carolina built a new ballpark in 2006 for $16 million, but since then, CHA Group consultants say over 100 businesses have moved within a mile of it.

UDA Chairman Chris Sheridan says that's the kind of success he would like to see for Macon.

"We see what Mercer football is doing to liven the vibe of downtown, and so a baseball stadium has that potential, but there's a lot of study that we need to do before we can make that determination," he says.

Mike Woollen with Odell Consulting says his group would first have to figure out possible sites. That could take at least a month. He says then they could start to look at options for teams, finances, and other factors.

He says, "From the time you say, 'let's look at a possible ballpark,' to the time you break ground, I've seen it as short as a year. I've seen it be ten to twelve years. This is ultimately about the political wheel and the desire of the community, so there's a lot of steps that have to happen before that, before you see ground being broken."

Sheridan says he's not sure if the city is ready to step up to the plate.

"The last thing we need to do is add a study on top of a study. We've got too many studies. So it needs to be incorporated into the context of all of the things that are going on right now," explains Sheridan.

He says the UDA will discuss the topic again at next month's meeting, but they probably will not make a decision until 2014 on whether to move forward.

Meanwhile, former mayor C. Jack Ellis says there's more than just economics at play.

"Wait until the new government is in place," says Ellis. "Do a thorough assessment of all the needs, all the buildings and do a massive plan before we go forward, not to put forth an idea on the eve of an election and say it's a good idea."

Mayor Robert Reichert says the possibility of a new baseball stadium has been part of the redevelopment he's been working on since 2007.

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