Fairburn considers regional baseball complex

The Fairburn City Council Monday night adopted a resolution for a proposal that, if approved by the board in the coming weeks, will lead to the development of a sports complex expected to draw baseball and softball teams and tournaments from across metro Atlanta with a resulting initial annual economic impact of $3.5-4.5 million.

The council voted to support the move to have Peachtree City-based Georgia Academy move forward with the effort that could result in the issuance of $14 million in revenue bonds by the Fairburn Development Authority and the construction of the Spence Road Championship Fields complex, the purchase of Duncan Park from Fulton County and the construction of fields at Duncan Park.

Georgia Academy partner and Coweta County resident Bill Killmeier said the organization is the operational entity of the proposed Championship Fields complex. If approved by the Fairburn City Council the complex to be located on Spence Road (Ga. Highway 92) south of Oakley Industrial Boulevard will be outfitted initially with an old-time Signature Field ball field and bleachers, a second tournament field with bleachers, concessions and a 20,000 square-foot indoor training facility that will also house a pro shop and is expected to include Georgia Academy’s corporate offices. Killmeier said the future expansion of the Spence Road site is expected to see the additional of three more ball fields.

Under the proposed agreement, Championship Fields will be responsible for $11.6 million in bond payments for construction of the Spence Road facility and for the three new fields at Duncan Park. Bond money would also provide $2.4 million for the city’s purchase of the 140-acre Duncan Park on Rivertown Road.

Ripken Baseball consultant Dan Taylor told council members that projections showed that approximately 70,000 people are expected to use the Championship Fields complex annually, with a majority of those coming from out of town. That type of draw will have a significant impact for local motels, restaurants and other businesses, he said, adding that expected crowds will likely fill 400 motel rooms during 35 weekends per year, thereby exceeding Fairburn’s current capacity.

Taylor said the initial annual economic impact is estimated to range between $3.5-4.5 million. In the future it is conceivable to see an annual multi-million dollar impact in double digits, he said.

Taylor said the local community and local ball players will also benefit from the project. Aside from the purchase of Duncan Park by the city with a portion of the revenue bond, that site will see the construction of three ball fields.

“We will make this available to everyone in the community, one way or another,” Taylor said of the overall project.

Killmeier said other fields are anticipated to be added at Duncan Park in the future.

Killmeier said Georgia Academy is in talks with Bruster’s, Roly Poly and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs about serving the Championship Fields complex on Hwy. 92.

Also at the meeting, council members during the public comments portion of the meeting heard from a number of people supporting the Championship Fields proposal. One of those was Bobby Gatlin from Whitewater High School in Fayette County.

“The Georgia Academy doesn’t just teach baseball. They teach life,” Gatlin said of the organization. “They do a tremendous job.”

The Fairburn City Council is expected to hear a final presentation and take a vote on the details of the project proposal in approximately one month.

Georgia Academy is directed by longtime coach Pete Berrios and Ryan Christenson and is staffed by former major league players and coaches. Also affiliated with Georgia Academy are three-time National Girl’s Softball coach Ernie Yarbrough, Fletcher Baseball president Scott Fletcher and long-time Atlanta Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone.

Georgia Academy partners include Killmeier, Ron Marcotte, Joe Haitte and Bill Wiley.

dar thompson
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You May

remember, peachtree city had an the opportunity to have a major sports complex unlike any other in the southeast but decided the $2.20 per month wasn't worth it. It want be long before we all stand around and ask "what happened to our city"? We will have no further to look than into the mirror.

inkslinger
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Georgia Academy In PTC Industrial Park

Whooossshhh....that's the giant sucking sound of another business leaving and going elsewhere.

Struck out again, as the saying goes.

mudcat
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Yea, so, don't you think the Fairburn City Manager got it?

Taking a business from Peachtree City is he easiest thing in the world for someone who knows how we don't have a clue about tax incentives and schmoozing businesses.

Should we not have someone who can counter these raids on our businesses?

Mr. Haddix? How do we stop this from happening again?

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Mudcat Baseball

If you go to the Georgia Academy the PTC site was called temporary in 2008.

This complex proposal is nothing new. We have been aware of it for a couple of years.

They have always wanted it in the Fairburn location because it is right by 85. We were never in the running to bring it here. DAPC, Rec, Sturbaum and I have been trying to figure out ways to attract some of what they will bring there to here.

It isn't the first time we have been eliminated as a location due to Hwy 85.

As for efforts to add incentives out biggest problem is we are a Tier 4 city, meaning we get the mininal to no grants or incentives from the State unless it is a major project, like NCR or Sany, they want here.

On that front Councilman Sturbaum took on a program we found last year at a GMA class to get our Industrial Park moved from Tier 4 to Tier 1, the maximum tax incentives from the State. We are one or two steps away from approval, so it is looking good on that front.

We are trying to develop the right package of incentives beyond what we offer now. But one has to be careful to not bankrupt the City with success. By that I mean places that gave all kinds of incentives only to find themselves locked out of getting the tax and other incomes to finance their budget while having numerous desirable businesses located in their cities.

We do have a clue on incentives and talking to businesses. We are just heavily hamstrung by our high economic rating when it comes to competing with cities with low economic ratings.

DAPC and FCDA both have found companies that want to locate here. But, they are not going to make a move until the economy improves.

Our biggest challenges are logistics, the economy, our economic rating and needing to transition from a commuter based community to a local employment based community.

Some companies see we don't have the people with the job qualifications they need living here, potential employees are nervous about moving to a job here where if the business closes they would have to move to find more work or commute and similar issues.

A big plus as well is getting colleges and tech schools here. Those efforts have ACC, Clayton State and Griffin Tech offering here now. Clayton is outgrowing its current space.

Colleges have a large positive economic impact on existing businesses and atracting good paying employers.

DAPC is also developing relationships with existing businesses here to find out any issues before they result in the loss of a business.

Unlike prior Councils we are facing up to those realities and are determined to overcome them. That means giving DAPC more funding, no longer thinking we can just build homes and retail to get the one time fees to get us through along with the failed notion of build it and they will come.

There is a lot to do, including changes in Tourism. This is the key road to our future so it must happen.

Robert W. Morgan
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Good answer Don, that's the most I have ever heard

from you on the subject of economic development. I was unaware of your efforts to get the industrial park up to a tier one rating. That's huge and should really pay off.

The lack of a direct connection to I-85 is an easy argument to overcome when 74 is 4-laned all the way to the end of the city. If nothing else the police chief will tell you that the main reason our crime rates are lower than most of our neighbors is the lack of direct access to I-85. That lower crime and insurance rating alone should offset any company's reluctance to locate 11 miles off the beaten path.

The economic problem (meaning available workers for mid-level jobs) is more difficult to overcome, but take a page out of the 1980;s and 1990's when the developer and Group VI in a rare display of cooperation with DPAC, the city and the county created an available worker matrix for the 10 surrounding counties and offered proof that these workers would commute to PTC - as of course many today are actually doing. Expensive, yes. Useful, very. Easy to coordinate, no.

A full-time director of economic development can create and use these tools and attract industry, a bunch of part-time politicians and staffers cannot.

Glad to see you are looking at Tourism at the same time as economic development. The answer surely lies therein.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Morgan

Thanks, Morgan.

Actually I have been beating this drum for over two years now. It just didn't get into print as much in the past.

The 74 argument isn't easy to overcome. The four lanes do not offset it. This is not a new issue to me and it has been much discussed.

You are indeed right that not being next to 85 helps lower crime. But at the same time there is more to the crime issue than that alone. Another topic of discussion.

The 80s and 90s matrix is gone. Logistical changes plus an unwillingness to commute by the growing younger segment of the work force and retiring of the older portion than was willing to commute has put an end to that. That is not unique to here but is a fact pretty much nationwide now, as the studies confirm over and over.

Even further with the move away from manufacturing to technology and information we are ideally situated for those industries. Rest assured we are pursuing them vigorously, along with education.

Bottom line is we have to get the jobs here, not there. Living and working here is the best formula for filling vacant homes, stores and city coffers.

Yes, we need a full time DAPC staffer. That is a key element in the need for an increase in funding to DAPC.

Sturbaum and I have tried to change Tourism for the last two years. Now we moving on it, actually starting on December 2, 2009.

As I said, a lot to do.

Just wanted to answer those points you made.

Bonkers
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Mayor

DAPC? Seems I have heard that before.

Couple of questions:

What is current budget?
What would new budget be with new hire?

Precisely what would that staff do, by person?
(By precise, I mean a daily routine).

Does the word Tourism mean business visitors mostly or real MR. & Mrs. Smith and kids?

Just because Hotel Tax engenders huge tax dollars doesn't mean that we as taxpayers shouldn't have a say in the expenditures, does it? (Town Council approval, for instance). (Please don't tell me it isn't a tax!)
(I know water run-off tax I pay goes to same kitty as Golf Cart license tax, etc)

What is your definition of a tax? (everyone doesn't benefit from some taxes)
What is your definition of a fee? (some fees benefit everyone)

As you may surmise, I think Authorities are unconstitutional!

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