Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Please Don't Bring the Ball Field To Hammond's Ferry

Baseball In North Augusta

"Swinging for the Fences -- And Missing"

Placing a 5000 seat stadium and a 225-room hotel on 26 acres of land sandwiched between 13th Street Bridge, Hammond's Ferry and the brick ponds is a bad idea on many different levels.  Project Jackson is a bad idea and needs to be stopped.

Currently there is excess hotel capacity in the CSRA . . .

Marriott Hotel - Augusta, GA
There is no demand for 225 rooms of additional hotel space in the CSRA.  The Marriott Hotel just across the Savannah River with 349 rooms and 23 suites, has an average occupancy rate of 50%.  The Marriott has 45,000 square feet of meeting space plus a new convention/TEE center and a parking deck.  Does it make any sense to build additional capacity with 30,000 more square feet of meeting space when an existing hotel is already under utilized?

Green Jackets, as Class A Team, have no economic impact . . . 

The Augusta Green Jackets are a Class A minor league team; that's four levels below Major League Baseball after AAA, AA, and Class A-Advanced.  Economic studies show there is no positive economic impact from building a stadium for a Class A minor league. See, for example:  Amherst Dissertation; and Journalist Resource.  Even if there were some positive impact, there would be little impact in this case because the team already operates in the CSRA and this would just be moving the team about 3 miles from their current location.

Parking is inadequate . . .

The initial design had a 900 space parking garage associated with the entire complex.  If you consider the hotel capacity at 200 rooms, plus the retail space with its employees, the staff of the hotel, and the employees of the Family Y, the parking deck would become quickly filled and the overflow would be felt on the local streets and neighborhoods.

Semi-trucks to service facilities will pollute, congest, damage roads . . .

The hotel, stadium, and retail space will require servicing by semi-trucks delivering food, drink, and restaurant supplies to these sites.  These trucks sit idling their diesel engines for hours, usually at night, while they are unloaded.  These supply trucks add more congestion, noise, and pollution to the area and are hard on the local roads.

Stadium events will cause traffic jams . . .

Stadiums create surge events where many people try to get into a small area at one time and then many leave the venue at about the same time.  The access to that small area is very limited, even if Center Street and West Avenue are extended.  Hammond's Ferry would feel the impact of traffic entering or departing the venues, especially if there were an accident.  The main artery between North Augusta and the major hospitals in the CSRA, 13th Street bridge could become jammed with traffic and impassable for emergency vehicles.

What are the records of the developers here?

Leyland Alliance's Storr Center
Manchester, CT
The records of the parties should be carefully examined before the city buys into their grandiose schemes. Leyland Alliance (developers of Hammond's Ferry) has developed other areas around the country including Storrs Center in Manchester, Connecticut.  The idea was to make a "college downtown" near the University of Connecticut with a Fresh Market or Trader Joe's market and underground parking.  Leyland changed the plan, brought in Price Chopper instead of Fresh Market, and canceled underground parking for wide open space of asphalt.  People were upset with this change, see Storrs supermarket hits snag and Hitting a Sour Note.

The Ft. Wayne Experience

Ft. Wayne Baseball Field Under
Construction -- 2 years late
Low value houses across the street
from the Ft. Wayne stadium
Mr. Chris Schoen, of Hardball Capital, touts his experience with building a minor league stadium in Ft. Wayne, Indiana as a success to be emulated.  That project did not go smoothly.  It was called the Harrison Square project.  First of all, note that this was a case of bringing some development to a blighted inner city.  Ft. Wayne is in the rust belt Midwest  and its downtown area had deteriorated, and the city leaders viewed this new Harrison Square project as an urban revitalization.  Hardball Capital delayed the project for four years, and the city became frustrated on getting financial information from Hardball, see Ft. Wayne Politics and Indiana News Center.  And yes, a study was produced at tax payer expense showing Ft. Wayne had a shortage of condos, yet the condos remained unsold.  The city built a $30 million dollar stadium, and the promised $18 million dollar housing and retail complex was delayed.  The city even considered taking the ball park back. The neighborhood where they built the park was run down, the houses across the street from the construction were old and dilapidated.  Contrast that with Hammond's Ferry and the River Club where the houses are less than 10 years old, and cost $500,000 to $1 million plus.  There is no urban blight here, no need for revitalization.  We're doing fine without cramming in a hotel and baseball park in highly prized river front property.

The environmental impact on a fragile eco-system should not be underestimated 

Finally, the environmental impact on the Savannah River and the brick ponds could be huge.  The water run-off from large covered spaces will dump thousands of gallons of fertilized, herbicide, oil and gas runoff into the river and the brick ponds.  In some architectural schematics it appears this project may even impinge on the brick ponds.  The impact on Greeneway users, the adverse impact on the quality of life including noise from 200 events a year, exhaust pollution, lights (notwithstanding their promised technology), traffic, and parking problems which will spill into local neighborhoods, should not be glibly swept aside as inconsequential.

Without the stadium, North Augusta is doing fine, we don't need revitalizing

Finally, this is not a "have-to-have" item like a sewage treatment plant, or water works, or a city dump.  Ball fields are a luxury.  There are any number of places in and around the CSRA that can accommodate a new stadium, including I-520 and Rte 1, near the Hippodrome, or Exit 5 on I-20, or the old K-mart complex off Aiken-Augusta highway.   Build it if you must, but lets not cram it into already crowded spaces.


  1. We may not have an Elm Street, but this project surely guarantees our very own nightmare.

  2. The low value homes look remarkably like some Hammonds Ferry properties

  3. I say leave the ballpark idea alone and build something useful like a prison. create jobs and god knows with the crime it would be put to good use. So if they really wanna build something there least make it productive.