News 12 at 6 o'clock, March 13, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---It was perfect conditions for a day at the ballpark this afternoon...and perfect conditions for city leaders and Ripken Baseball to reveal concept art for the proposed riverfront baseball stadium, now dubbed Augusta Gardens.
At a news conference today, leaders unveiled four concept drawings of how the stadium and sports complex might look. "I think something is wrong with you if you don't get a little moved by it," said Bill Ripken. Ripken Baseball and the city hope the complex will bring a little more life downtown.
"It's gonna come back regardless. It'll be just another piece of the puzzle that would make it come back," said Dick Gayle. Gayle has lived in Augusta for 35 years. He says seeing...is believing. "People are gonna use it. If they come down here and visit they'll see what a great place it is," said Dick.
"There's no city in America that would have the same set-up...to have a mixed use stadium facility and the gardens...the botanical gardens there," said Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver.
It's being called a park within a park. The botanical gardens would sit next to the baseball park. The stadium is expected to cost 20 to 30 million dollars.
"My dad always said to us...if it's worth doing...it is worth doing right," said Bill Ripken. Ripken says he's willing to put his money where his mouth is. "Every project we've ever been involved in we've thrown resources at...our time...our effort...our know how," said Ripken.
"It goes back to...if you build it they will come, but there's a lot of work that goes into it," said Jeff Eiseman who is Vice President of Ripken baseball.
The city still has to secure the currently state owned property, and find parking space. "We still have hurdles to overcome. This is not a done deal at this point," said Mayor Copenhaver.
The end result could mean 900 jobs, and an economic impact of 30 million dollars a year. "We love this market, we believe in the downtown, and we believe this is a project that benefits the whole community," said Jeff.
The next step is finding a way to pay for it. The finance committee is expected to make a recommendation within 30 days. The stadium will seat 5,000 people. There is a parking deck planned in connection with the TEE center. The mayor says he'd like to have opening day at the ballpark in 2010.