Gov. Sonny Perdue says he’ll put his weight behind a new Augusta GreenJackets ballpark proposal during his final days in office.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue says he’ll put his weight behind a new Augusta GreenJackets (Low Class A; Sally League) ballpark proposal during his final days in office.
Ripken Baseball is proposing a $32-million ballpark on the city’s downtown 17-acre Golf and Gardens property. Augusta Mayor Duke Copenhaver says he wants to the private sector — i.e., a private developer or Ripken Baseball — to pick up most of the costs of the new ballpark, but the whole project is beginning in the hole, and Copenhaver’s being a little disingenuous about how he foresees the ballpark being funded.
The 17-acre site was planned as a development centered by the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, but that body is being dissolved under some huge debt: the state owns the land and owes $3.5 million in bonds issued against it. Meanwhile, the city has already spent $6 million in dedicated sales-tax revenues on it and will need to spend more on environmental cleanup.
As for funding, the specifics actually call for a tax-increment financing district to pay for the ballpark, as well as other special taxes going before voters in June. Now, tax-increment financing is a common and time-honored way to fund ballparks; it works, mostly,. But Copenhaver is currently arguing the city should float the bonds and accept the risk — and the sooner he explains that to voters, the better chance he’ll have for their support.
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