Baseball’s return to Macon hinges on letter of intent, stadium upgrades

Owner makes pro baseball pitch to Macon-Bibb officials

The Macon-Bibb County Commission heard a presentation Tuesday on why a Coastal Plain League team should play at Luther Williams Field.
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The Macon-Bibb County Commission heard a presentation Tuesday on why a Coastal Plain League team should play at Luther Williams Field.

A Macon-Bibb County Commission committee will discuss Tuesday a letter of intent for a collegiate summer league baseball team to play at Luther Williams Field.

A Coastal Plain League franchise calling Macon home would be contingent on upgrades being completed to the historic Central City Park stadium. The renovations could cost as much as $2.5 million and would have to be approved by the County Commission, according to the letter of intent.

The commission’s Operations and Finance Committee could decide Tuesday whether to bring the letter of intent to vote before the full commission.

The stadium improvements would include upgrades to the press box, locker rooms, dugout, concessions, field and more. The funding would likely come from a portion of $280 million in special purpose local option sales tax revenue.

“If the parties cannot agree on final design and project costs, either party may terminate this letter of intent by written notice to the other party,” the agreement said.

The team would be owned by SRO Partners, which would pay $50,000-$55,000 annually to lease the stadium over a 10 year period. Another $3,000 would be paid when the lease is signed.

Coastal Plain League, established in 1997, currently has 15 franchises across the Southeast. In February, an SRO official and league commissioner made the pitch to Macon-Bibb commissioners as to why having a franchise in Macon would be fruitful.

Officials are aiming to have the inaugural season take place in 2018.

“We’re not just riding in here to showcase something for a year or two, we want to be successful,” Coastal Plain Commissioner Justin Sellers said at the Feb. 28 meeting.

Maternity leave

Macon-Bibb County government employees could soon have paid time off to take care of their newborn children.

Commissioner Virgil Watkins is proposing a maternity and paternity leave resolution that will be on Tuesday’s committee meetings agenda. The resolution calls for up to four weeks of paid time off for mothers and one week for fathers.

Watkins’ resolution would also provide up to one week of paid leave following the adoption of a child. The resolution is similar to a measure approved by the Warner Robins City Council in March.

Currently, Macon-Bibb employees can take unpaid parental leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act. Watkins said since salaries are already budgeted, then the cost for maternity or paternity leave should be minimal.

An employee must have worked with Macon-Bibb for at least one year before being eligible for the paid parental leave, according to Watkins’ resolution.

Typically, an employee that’s worked with Macon-Bibb for a while has enough accrued vacation or sick time to cover maternity or paternity leave, Watkins said earlier this month.

“The problem you run into is when you’re a young mother and might only be working with us two years and have limited vacation,” he said.

Watkins said the average number of employees would need to take the leave annually is about 30, with the majority of that being men as they make up a higher percentage of Macon-Bibb employees.

Street Closure

A resolution proposes closing a portion of Spring Street in downtown Macon.

The street closure, if approved by commissioners, would eliminate the division of High Street Park and Lanier Park. That section of Spring Street is located near St. Joseph’s Catholic School, 905 High St., according to the resolution.

The closure is a recommendation of the Macon Action Plan.

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph