A proposal to extend a TiF district to include a new Augusta GreenJackets (Low Class A; Sally League) ballpark hit an expected snag after the Aiken County (S.C.) Council voted 4-2 to turn down the financing application.
The ballpark would be part of a larger development that would include a 200-room hotel, convention center and retail, residential and office space. Developers, including the GreenJackets ownership, would pay up $122 million on the project; $43 million in TIF money financed by the city would cover 30 percent of the total cost of the project.
County councillors balked at the TIF plan, expressing doubts that baseball would be a success in North Augusta and opposing the notion of freezing property-tax rates at 1996 levels for the next 30 years. Some were open to the idea of reviewing a revised TIF plan that didn’t include a new ballpark.
According to North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones, the decision puts the project on life support; either team owners and developers will need to come up with construction funds or the baseball portion of the project is scrapped. “We aren’t dead yet, but we are on life support,” he told the Augusts Chronicle. “We needed their help, and it is unfortunate that they didn’t see the big picture.” For baseball fans in Augusta, this is bad news, as Lake Olmstead Stadium really isn’t the long-term solution to baseball in the city; for baseball fans living in cities in the southern portion of the Sally League footprint, it’s good news.
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