by Katelyn Heck, 13WMAZ.com
- John Hughes hired a firm to do a feasibility study for bringing minor league baseball to Warner Robins.
-The firm says the city could host a Single-A major leagueaffiliateand recommends a 5,000-seat ballpark.
- Warner Robins council offered their moral support -- but not money -- for Hughes' plan.
A Warner Robins man says he has put together a team of people, including a national sports management company, with hopes of bringing minor league baseball back to central Georgia.
John Hughes from Warner Robins says he hired National Sports Servicesto doa feasibility study at the beginning of the year.
The study looked at demographics, economics, and locations in Warner Robins and Houston County.
Bill Davidson with National Sports Services, who headed up that search, says all his findings show the "International City" could support a Class-A team.
That's three steps below the major-league level -- behind Class AAA and AA teams -- and generally features first- or second-year professionals.
Hughes says he intends to bring in an existing team, which will be privately owned.
But Davidson says there may have to be a public-private partnership with local governments to build the stadium for them to play in.
Davidson suggests a 5,000-seat ballpark with amenities like play areas and picnic spots.
"Like a mini-Turner Field," says Davidson. "It's not just about getting the baseball experience. It's about a fun family experience."
In deciding the scale of the project, Davidson says they modeled their plan after places like Savannah and Rome in Georgia, as well as, other Class-A teams in Kentucky and Indiana.
The first part of the study, which examined whether the team could thrive in Central Georgia, is complete.
Now, Davidson says the search begins for a stadium location.
Davidson says he's worked with Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen, the Houston County Development Authority, the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Perry leaders,and others, who he says have been supportive.
Monday, Hughes asked the Warner Robins city council to call off their own search for a minor league team and use the already funded National Sports Services plan.
Council tabled that decision, with many members asking for more information first.
Wednesday, Shaheen and council signed a letter to Hughes saying, "Our officials are unable and unwilling to commit any City funding to the venture (or to any similar effort related to minor league baseball by others). However, we are supportive of the efforts and encourage you to pursue your plan. The City commits that it will not assist with any other minor league baseball effort through March of 2014."