The city of Columbus and the state of Georgia have removed development restrictions for the Golden Park property area and is talking with Diamond Baseball Holdings to bring back pro baseball to the historic former MiLB ballpark.
Seating 3,500, Golden Park was first home to pro baseball in 1926 and hosted several MiLB teams over the decades, including the Columbus RedStixx, South Georgia Waves and Columbus Catfish, which ended up moving to Bowling Green. In addition, the venue hosted women’s fastpitch softball competition in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. Columbus, located in west-central Georgia, has a population of 202,616.
As you might expect for a ballpark opening in 1926 (although twice renovated), Golden Park is clearly in need of some work. The ballpark is currently costing the city $83,000 a year in maintenance, and by attracting a team–and some development–to the facility would turn the ballpark finances around. From the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:
In a last-minute addition to Columbus Council’s agenda Tuesday night, Mayor Skip Henderson asked councilors to support bringing a Minor League Baseball team back to Golden Park.
Council voted unanimously to approve the resolution as its 5:30 p.m. meeting began….
The resolution the mayor added to the meeting agenda said council “wishes to explore the possibility of bringing a minor league MLB baseball team back to Columbus,” and resolves to offer its “enthusiastic support” of that effort. It authorizes the mayor and staff “to continue discussions with Diamond Baseball Holdings and other parties to explore opportunities to relocate a minor league team to Golden Park.”
In what we’re told is a totally related move, the city and the state earlier this year removed zoning restrictions in the South Commons area around Golden Park, clearing the way for private investment and development:
That restriction enshrined in state law said the property “shall be kept open and used only for the purpose of a public park and playground and devoted to such amusement and pleasure as … the City of Columbus may designate.”
The restriction also mandated that the City of Columbus “shall have no power or authority to convey any part or portion of said real property without the assent of two-thirds of the qualified voters of said city at a special election to be held for that purpose.”…
The city does not intend to sell Golden Park, and does not yet have a plan for the property, he said, but hopes new amenities there will spur more development down the road.
Diamond Baseball Holdings currently controls 18 Minor League Baseball licensees, including the Rome Braves (High-A; Sally League).