October 23, 2006
GreenJackets owner Cal Ripken, Jr. was in Augusta today getting a proclamation from the mayor. He also talked about some big new possibilities for baseball in Augusta.
It was a big deal when Ripken brought the GreenJackets, but he's not done with Augusta. He's now talking of making a big investment in the city.
When the iron man comes to town, it's usually for a reason.
This time there were two. First, the Augusta GreenJackets' owner received recognition from the mayor for the team's Southern Regional championship.
"They deserve some special attention," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver. "They brought a championship, a division title to Augusta in their first year."
And it's that success that has the baseball great looking to do some great things in Augusta. He met with leaders about ways he can invest in the city, which could include a new baseball stadium.
"I'm certainly open-minded, and we're looking at all the possibilities of having a good partnership with the city," Ripken told News 12. "Ultimately you want to do what's best for Augusta. If a new stadium in part of town is best for Augusta, we'll be open-minded to that."
Right now, the Jackets play at Lake Olmstead.
Ripken says the crowds for the minor league games have been good, but not great. A new stadium we be a multi-use venue, fit for big concerts...like the Ripken stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland.
"We realize that everybody's not really a fanatic and crazy about baseball, but we can use that stadium for ways to make people happy," Ripken said.
And though this is a pitch and not a plan just yet, just talk of the Ripken Baseball Company investing in Augusta has city leaders feeling good.
"They are committed to this community and I'm extremely excited to have them invested in our community," Mayor Copenhaver said.
"The minor league stadiums and minor league teams do provide an economic engine for the city, a nice gathering point, does bring money into the city in many different ways," Ripken said.
He's not just looking at a stadium. He also met with Kroc Center people.
Ripken's organization has been leading the GreenJackets for just a season, and they went to the playoffs for the first time in five years.