The Columbus City Council made it official and committed to the upgrade of Golden Park to bring professional baseball back to the city. The baseball fan in me is thrilled. The taxpayer in me is wondering if I’ll be left holding the bag down the road.
The fact that the proposal would pass was a foregone conclusion. The way the commitment was made put the city’s reputation on the line. Rejecting it would have destroyed the ability to attract any outside business – ever. Who could believe any promises from the Columbus government if that had happened?
So, it’s a done deal, with a $50 million bond issue on the way. How will it be paid for? Beats me. The first year’s taken care of with $2 million out of the permanent 1% sales tax. Starting in 2026, the bill will be $4.2 million a year, with no plan, at least yet. Hey, there’s always the prospect of raising property taxes.
Good luck with that.
I’m not trying to pee in everyone’s cornflakes here. The city of Columbus has amazing potential. There’s a chance that this could be the tipping point and spark the downtown investment and explosion of growth the city’s been working for the past decade-plus.
Guess what – it better happen that way. I don’t like the chances of some Good Samaritan with a checkbook popping up to bail out the city.
And the city has been falling down on the job. Basic maintenance hasn’t been done on the current sports and recreational facilities. The very same night the Golden Park bond issue was approved, the city council had a do some quick literal fence-mending and stadium patching by allocating $1.6 million to do basic and overdue maintenance on A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium, one block away from Golden Park. Other city venues dedicated to youth sports are even in worse shape, neglected for far too long.
The track record is abysmal. Trust issues abound.
The dreamers better get serious. That means putting together a concrete plan in the next two months for projects that will open things up and create a must-attend venue that provides more than just baseball.
Everyone has to step up, especially those who envision themselves as civic leaders in not just Columbus, but the whole metro – including Phenix City, Smiths Station, Fort Benning/Moore, and Harris County. Corporate leaders have to go all-in, brainstorming to put together projects that can succeed, actively personally participating in the work, and opening up their personal checkbooks.
If this works, everyone benefits. And sticking the taxpayers with the bill is not an ethical option.
The good news in all this is that Glenn Davis is one of the sceptics on the city council. Davis understands what is going on better than anyone else in town after a decade-long career in major league baseball (which included a season as a Columbus Astro on the way up the ladder) followed by his dive into the construction business. Ignore him at your peril.
I want to see it work. I want to see it work as much as anyone who lives in this city and this area. I can’t express how much I’ve missed having professional baseball on those summer nights at Golden Park. I’ll do whatever I can to make things happen.
Alea iacta est – the die is cast. Skip Henderson as Caesar? This time it’s not the Rubicon that’s been crossed, it’s the Chattahoochee.
Time to get to work.