The effort to bring a Coastal Plain League franchise to Macon, GA is moving forward, as the county has advanced a resolution relating to the proposal.
More steps will need to be completed, but the Macon-Bibb County Commission Committee of the Whole voted on Tuesday to advance a resolution that, if approved again next week, would allow Macon-Bibb mayor Robert Reichert to undertake negotiations. The proposal in place calls for a summer collegiate franchise to begin play at historic Luther Williams Field in 2018.
One of the sticking points in the negotiations will be upgrades to Luther Williams Field, which are currently estimated to cost about $2.5 million. The arrival of a new franchise could lead to a modernization of the facility, which officials believe could make Luther Williams Field a more viable ballpark for the long run. More from The Telegraph:
The Macon team would be owned by sports marketing firm SRO Partners and the goal is to have a team in Macon for the 2018 season, said SRO Partners co-owner Steve DeLay, who is also a minority partner with the league’s Savannah Bananas.
Even if the commission approves the resolution again on March 7, the commission would have to give the thumbs up on a lease agreement. The county would also have to agree to pay for some improvements — roughly estimated at $2.5 million — to the Central City Park stadium.
There needs to be improvements to areas such as the press box, locker rooms, dugout, concessions and field. Among the proposed features at the park would be a beer garden, outdoor cabana suites and picnic areas, DeLay said.
“We felt like if we did those key areas we can make it really successful, make it a clean, neat asset for the community and make it a centerpiece for the summer time,” he said. “I don’t believe you need to go out and spend millions and millions … on a new ballpark.”
Though a variety of independent and summer collegiate franchises have come and gone over the years, Luther Williams Field has not had a steady baseball tenant since the Macon Braves (Low A; Sally League) relocated after the 2002 season. The ballpark opened in 1929, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
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