Documents show a Petersburg, Virginia, summer collegiate baseball franchise could be relocating to Macon.
But Macon-Bibb County officials say they were unaware of the Petersburg Generals potentially moving to Middle Georgia. Peterburg city officials are expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal to sell the Coastal League franchise team to SRO Partners.
SRO Partners is looking to relocate the Coastal League team to Middle Georgia, according to a report from Conventions Sports & Leisure International, or CSL.
CSL was hired by Petersburg officials to analyze the Generals’ operations.
“Given the current status, the city is considering executing a purchase and sale agreement with SRO Partners LLC for $100,000 that would result in the sale of the franchise and subsequent relocation to Macon, Georgia,” the Jan. 27 report said.
Macon-Bibb officials said while investors have shown interest in bringing a team to Macon, they were unaware of the potential sale of the Generals.
Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert refereed questions about a relocation to the league’s commissioner. He said he first learned about the Generals’ sale when contacted by a Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Tuesday.
“That was first, I promise you, that’s the first I knew of anything about this,” Reichert said at Tuesday’s pre-commission meeting.
SRO Partners is a firm associated with the a minority partner with league's Savannah Bananas, Steven DeLay. Last week, Reichert informed commissioners there was some interest from DeLay in having a franchise come to Macon.
DeLay is expected to make a presentation to the commission later this month.
“We’ve gone back and forth talking with a group that’s working with us on bringing a Coastal League team here,” Macon-Bibb County spokesman Chris Floore said. “But a lot that hinges on us putting that funding into Luther Williams Field.”
Reichert has advocated spending $2.5 million in special sales tax revenue for improvements to the Central City Park stadium by the start of the 2018 Coastal League season.
Any sale of a team would have to be approved by the commission.
Putting the Generals on the market comes after years of financial struggles for Petersburg. The team generated an average operating revenue of $20,400 from 2012-2015, the report said.
“In comparison, a number of franchises in the Coastal Plain League generate annual revenue in excess of $150,000,” the CSL document said.
Road to coastal
A study last year said Macon-Bibb and surrounding communities could support a minor league Class A baseball team. That likely would be dependent on building a new multimillion dollar venue for the team, according to the study.
Finding a Class A team to relocate to Macon has been difficult because most affiliates are tied into long-term agreements with their cities, Reichert has said.
The lease closest to ending is in Rome, which Macon lost its Atlanta Braves affiliate to in 2002.
Since then Macon has been home to several other baseball teams. Two independent minor league teams — the Macon Peaches and Macon Music — each lasted one season while another summer collegiate league team, the Macon Pinetoppers, also had a brief stay.
Even if a Coastal franchise plays at Luther Williams, Reichert said he still wants to look into building a multipurpose venue for sports, concerts and other events.
Coastal Plain’s has 16 franchises located in the southeast.