The Macon-Bibb County Economic and Community Development Committee will decide Tuesday whether to spend $50,000 on a feasibility study to determine how and if to bring Minor League Baseball to the area.
Potential owners in Macon and neighboring Warner Robins have made a few runs at MiLB teams since losing the Macon Braves (Low A; Sally League) in 2002. But none have been successful. It’s not necessarily been the market, which is certainly robust enough for pro ball: the Macon-Warner Robins Combined Statistical Area was at 417,473 residents in 2010, and the population has only increased since then.
Rather, it’s been a facilities issue in the area: the former home of the Macon Braves, Luther Williams Field, has plenty of charm for a very old ballpark, but it doesn’t come close to meeting modern specs. So the potential study from Washington, D.C.-based Brailsford & Dunlavey will focus on a ballpark spec as well as a market analysis. From The Telegraph:
Along with potential renovations at Luther Williams, the study will examine other locations such as the former Bibb Mill site on Coliseum Drive. In November 2014, [Mayor Robert] Reichert unveiled a tentative redevelopment plan at the former cotton mill. That plan called for building a baseball stadium that would be surrounded by restaurants, small hotels and a parking deck….
Macon-Bibb is in a similar situation of having lost a minor league baseball team as Columbia, South Carolina, was several years ago. Brailsford & Dunlavey performed a feasibility study in the Palmetto State capital, which has since held a groundbreaking on a new stadium as it welcomes in another team…..
The company’s proposal said it will analyze the financial impact to Macon-Bibb over a 20-year period. The firm would work with Macon-Bibb to find public and private funding methods. Later on, the firm also could help negotiate a deal between a team and the city.
The committee is expected to make a decision on a feasibility study Tuesday.