Baseball could work if done right

September 25, 2013 

There was one quick thought that ran through my mind when I read Phillip Ramati’s story on the possibility of minor league baseball returning to Bibb County: This could work … if it’s done correctly.

That’s a huge caveat.

It has to be done correctly, or it would be a huge mistake.

The talks are just in the beginning stages, but already the possibilities run through your mind about what could be: a warm summer night with the sounds of baseball ringing through the Middle Georgia air. That sounds good to me.

Let’s hope it happens. But let’s hope it’s done right. So what does “right” mean?

For one, it would have to be a major league-affiliated team. We have had enough independent teams, and even an independent league, come through Macon to know that that’s not the approach to take. They sound good when people talk about them and helping build the game in a new and exciting way. But they just don’t work, and we don’t need to go down that road again.

Secondly, we’d need a new stadium. Luther Williams Field is not up to the standards that would be needed to attract an affiliated team. It was fine in its day, but there’s no way an affiliated team is going to play in that stadium. And who would blame a team for that? Go around the country and take a look at the nice, sparkling stadiums that a lot of minor league teams call home, and then come back and take a look at Luther Williams Field.

It doesn’t stack up, and a new stadium is the only answer.

That leads us to the next big question: Where would that stadium be built? Downtown Macon isn’t the answer. It would seem to limit the fan base and the focus of the team a bit to try another stadium in that area. And it’s not like Macon has the greatest track record of supporting teams?

A stadium that would be easily accessible to fans in Houston County, for sure, along with Forsyth, Gray or other surrounding areas would make the most sense. Maybe build it in the area between Macon and Warner Robins on I-75 and make it a regional team instead of a Macon team. Sure, that would take some work between the leadership of the communities, but for the good of the region, you’d hope they’d come through and get that done.

That certainly would make minor league baseball more viable for our region. An affiliated team with a new stadium built in the right area seems like the right combination to make it work this time.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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