We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Ballpark Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #10: The Augusta GreenJackets celebrate an SRP Park opening at the beginning of the season.
There’s no such thing as an easy ballpark project, but the multiyear effort to open a new home for the Augusta GreenJackets (Low A; Sally League) yielded a mixed-use development anchored by a noteworthy new ballpark, SRP Park.
Located across the Savannah River from the edge of downtown Augusta in North Augusta, South Carolina, SRP Park is the centerpiece of the Riverside Village development (known formerly as Project Jackson). A modern mixed-use development with hotels, residential, office and retail, Riverside Village is an ambitious project undertaken by the city and investors, including Greenstone, the Atlanta-based investment firm that includes Chris Schoen, part of the GreenJackets ownership via Agon Sports & Entertainment. The vision behind the $183-million Riverside Village is a live/work environment, featuring a Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, Class A office space, restaurants, apartments, condos, senior housing and retail, some of which will be located in the ballpark.
The opening of SRP Park was an odyssey, to be sure. The GreenJackets’ previous owners, Ripken Baseball, had begun discussions of a Lake Olmstead Stadium replacement almost a decade ago. After an Augusta, GA, ballpark proposal fizzled out, the GreenJackets–by then purchased by Agon Sports & Entertainment–crossed the Savannah River and the state line to talk new ballpark with North Augusta, S.C. But progress on the project was delayed by almost three years after a local resident sued the city in 2014 over the tax-increment financing part of the deal. That lawsuit was eventually tossed by the courts, with construction beginning in 2017.
In the end, the effort paid off. SRP Park earned our Ballpark of the Year honors, serving as a model for private-public partnerships across the country. This model is proving to be a popular one in pro sports, and it’s hard to see any more large-scale ballparks that don’t include this type of financing/development model.