Savannah officials are warming to a new downtown ballpark for the Savannah Sand Gnats (Low Class A; Sally League), but remain committed to an arena as part of the project.
The issue: in 2006 approved a sales tax for a new downtown arena. One proposal has the proceeds of that local sales tax diverted to a ballpark project. And while there seems to be general support for a new downtown ballpark — support that increased after Sand Gnats owner Jason Freier showed them the impressive Parkview Field, the home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low Class A; Midwest League) — many councilmembers remain committed to the downtown arena, or maybe a scaled-down facility more akin to a community center. To that end, the council commissioned J&P Consulting to study potential sites and specific market needs (concerts, events, conventions) that could be served by a new facility.
There are advantages to proceeding with both an arena and a ballpark; infrastructure and parking investments could be made at one time. But it runs counter to the sort of development Freier is envisioning: a ballpark surrounded by retail and other development. Putting an arena in the middle of this development makes it much larger, though perhaps more of a year-round draw.
The Sand Gnats currently play at Historic Grayson Stadium, which opened in 1926 and was rebuilt in 1940-1941 in a project partially funded by the WPA
In any case, a new downtown ballpark is very much at play in Savannah.
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