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Columbus to explore $50M in bonding for Golden Park upgrades

The Columbus Council voted to formally explore $50 million in bonds for Golden Park upgrades, with the former MiLB ballpark eyed as potentially attracting more investment to the Georgia city.

We first reported on the plan to renovate Golden Park for a Diamond Baseball Holdings club back in May. Since that report, the city explored a $50-million bond offering, and the vote today by the Columbus Council moves the process forward to a more formal level of discussions. That doesn’t mean the bonds will actually be issued; it just moves the process along. The expectation is that by investing in an upgraded Minor League Baseball ballpark, additional investment–pegged by some city officials as up to $350 million–would be attracted to the South Commons area around Golden Park in the form of an onsite hotel, retail and residential.

With Golden Park upgrades designed to meet MiLB new facility specs, the old ballpark could host a new team by the 2025 season–which means the council will likely revisit the topic as soon as January.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer is reporting that a Double-A Southern League team is envisioned as a tenant; currently the only Diamond Baseball Holdings teams in that MiLB circuit are the Birmingham Barons–a team highly unlikely to be moved–and the Mississippi Braves, whose home, Trustmark Park, opened in Pearl in 2005.

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. 

Image courtesy Visit Columbus GA.

RELATED STORIES: Columbus’s Golden Park pitched for development, MiLB

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