After some false starts, Savannah officials say they want to talk with owner Jason Freier about a new ballpark for the Savannah Sand Gnats (Low Class A; Sally League).
It’s not a new idea or a new site: the Savannah River Landing location has been eyed by the city for redevelopment for years now, but this is a new plan; previous plans have tapped a city tax for a new arena. Basically, Freier is pitching the city on a plan where the ballpark is part of a larger development, with increased tax revenues paying for the cost of the ballpark. The time to start planning is now: the Sand Gnats lease at Grayson Stadium ends after this coming season. From Savannah Now:
Hardball Capital CEO Jason Freier said during a workshop Thursday morning a stadium would spur development at the site that has sat undeveloped since the economic downturn began in 2008.
“It’s like getting a great anchor store in the mall,” Freier said. “It gives people a reason to go there.”
Freier said the project would cost the city between $1.6 million and $1.9 million a year for thirty years. A majority of the cost of construction, maintenance and operations would be covered by private investment during that time period, he said.
Grayson Stadium is a lovely old facility, but it’s economically obsolete and lack-locked; to bring it up to modern standards would cost more than the cost of a new ballpark, according to Freier. And there are options for the team should a new Savannah ballpark agreement fall through: the mayor of Columbia, S.C., is already on record as having discussions with Freier.
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