The Macon-Bibb County Commission’s Operations and Finance Committee approved a proposal to spend $50,000 for a feasibility study to see if minor league baseball should come back to Macon. The full commission votes Oct. 6.
Certainly we have a historic ballpark in Luther Williams Field, but the firm would also look at the old cotton mill site and the possibility of a new stadium surrounded by restaurants and other amenities.
As much as we would like to wax nostalgic, Luther Williams is a baseball park of the past, not the future. All the retrofitting in the world will not make the trains or the mosquitoes disappear. We are not calling for the park’s demolition, It still has many uses, but as an attraction for a major league baseball class anything team — its day is done.
With our proximity to Atlanta, we’re not convinced a team of any stature would be able to draw fans consistently enough to make a go of it here, but there is a window of opportunity that may make a difference. The Braves will move to SunTrust Park in Cobb County in 2017. Fans coming from the south will have to factor in another 14 miles — through downtown Atlanta up Interstate 75 — to get to a game. Although the Georgia Department of Transportation is trying to mitigate the issues at the exits to the new stadium, traffic, even with shuttle buses from satellite parking lots, could be a nightmare.
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Will that cause fans to consider a minor league team located in Macon? Who knows? Is it worth finding out? Yes, because it’s not just about baseball. It is about economic development, and the proposed firm knows that. Even if they come back saying baseball is not a good fit for this area, the information gathered about the old cotton mill location and what could possibly be located there will be worth the expense.