It’s been a minute since I posted anything about Golden Park since other things have been demanding my time (as you can see elsewhere on this blog.)

Maybe I took a break, but everyone else connected with the project has been moving forward with all necessary breakneck speed.

On Tuesday, Diamond Sports Group put up a website at  to make their presence known. In the process, they announced that current Mississippi Braves GM Pete Laven will spearhead the move to Golden Park.

This is the best of all possible worlds for Columbus. Laven is a baseball lifer with over three decades of experience in running minor league baseball operations. He spent six years as GM of the Arkansas Travelers of the Class AA Texas League, three as GM of the Schaumberg (IL) Boomers of the Frontier League, and the last four running the MS Braves. He also has a grasp of the challenges of baseball in South Georgia after a year as the assistant GM of the Albany Polecats back in the mid-90’s. A video posted on the team website gives everyone a chance to see what he’s about.

Also posted on the website are artistic renderings of what Golden Park should look like after the renovations are completed. Brasfield & Gorrie are the architects chosen for the work, and as those responsible for the construction of Truist Park in Atlanta, the drawings are of the quality you would expect.

I said that Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery would be a good blueprint, and the plan is definitely reminiscent of that ballpark. They look really, really good. You can see more of the renderings on their website.

From what I can tell, Golden Park 3.0 will rectify the numerous problems of GP 2.0 from 1995. If I recall correctly, McDevitt Street Bovis did the work. Some of it was good, especially the brickwork façade of the ballpark. Inside was another matter.

The luxury box windows don’t open and there are no mics and speakers set up so fans in the boxes can’t hear the sounds of the game. The fixed blue seats are extremely narrow and uncomfortable for the majority of the fans. The absolute worst of it was the decision to route the heat vents from the concession areas into that same photo well. Anyone sitting in the box seats near the well gets all that heat right in their faces. Oh, and the photo well behind home plate has no easy access – to get into it, you have to scale over the railings which isn’t exactly comfortable and is slightly dangerous considering there’s camera equipment involved. Shooting the game from there is no picnic either because of the vented heat, but that’s a first-world problem.

With Brasfield & Gorrie calling the shots, all those issues should a distant and unpleasant memory. And with a veteran baseball man running the promotional aspect of the franchise, it’s going to be a quality, professional product.

That leaves it up to the city to follow thru on maintaining the ballpark, and for the team to get enough fan support to make the return of pro baseball to Columbus a success.

P.S. And a reminder that I’m in the legal battle of a lifetime. Please contribute to the Dave Platta Legal Fund at GiveSendGo.  Any amount will help and it will help keep the battle going.


Here’s something to keep in mind about the impending move of the Mississippi Braves of the Class AA Southern League to Columbus – it’s a completely different ownership structure than we’ve had in the past in professional sports.

Columbus has had a minor league baseball team more often than not since 1909, but those teams were owned by identifiable individuals who had a tie to the community. Those teams were borderline profitable, but the owners were willing to take a financial hit because it wasn’t solely about money.

Of course, there was a breaking point, and that’s when we saw the team sold to another single owner or an ownership group, or saw the team head off to another city where there was a new ballpark or other incentive to realize a profit, or in the worst case scenarios, close up shop.

There was at least an identifiable individual with the power to bind and loose as it were. But this is a whole new deal. The team that’s coming to town is owned by a corporation, Diamond Baseball Holdings, which owns 28 teams.

And they’re in turn owned by Endeavor Group Holdings, which is the result of a merger of two Hollywood Talent Agencies, Endeavor and William Morris Agency. It’s not just baseball – Endeavor owns the WWE, UFC, and Learfield Sports, which handles the media marketing for Alabama, Georgia, and 90-plus other universities. No shock here that Endeavor is traded on the NYSE, which means they’re playing in the financial big leagues.

There’s no sentimental value to having a baseball team in this town for the ownership group. It’s all about making money for investors, which means the city has to toe the line, or lose the team.

The terms of the 20-year lease gives the team the right to bail if the city doesn’t maintain a refurbished Golden Park to Major League Baseball’s facility requirements. Get ready for the owners of the team to play hardball.

It will indeed be a new ballgame for the city of Columbus.

NOTE: Edited to remove Auburn from list of schools marketed by Learfield Sports. Auburn media marketing is handled by Playfly Sports Properties.


Chess is all about putting your opponent in an impossible position. The group that secured the move of the Atlanta Braves Class AA farm club from Pearl, MS to Columbus made their chess moves perfectly. The city councilors that questioned the wisdom of the move were painted into a corner, and now it’s a fait accompli.  “It’s better to ask forgiveness than it is to ask for permission” is the best way to phrase it.

There’s no point in rehashing the arguments against – that was yesterday’s post. Now, it’s time to look forward and makes sure that this big gamble doesn’t boomerang on the taxpayers of the city. Remember, there are plenty of good arguments for the move, too. But the devil will be in the details.

There isn’t a bigger baseball fan in the city of Columbus, and I’m stoked about the return of professional baseball to Golden Park in 2025. Close your eyes and imagine the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the smell of popcorn, the kids chasing foul balls. Does it get better than that? Just keep in mind that there are a lot of moving parts, and they all have to mesh perfectly given the state of the economy in this $50 million-plus gamble.

Columbus is like any other small- to medium-sized city – there are power centers in government and in the business community, and they’re used to be the ones calling the shots. In their world, our job is to show up at the games – and pay the taxes.

Hold on, bucko. We need to get involved in this thing, too. If I’m going to be writing checks, I want some real, true input in the decisions.

The city has gotten some of those big gambles right in the past – whitewater rafting anybody? – but they’ve also had some real clunkers. We as citizens need to get in on the ground floor with suggestions and recommendations about how the money will be allocated, and how the re-construction of Golden Park and how the economic development around the stadium happens.

For the next few days, I’m going to break down the good and the bad into bite-sized chunks so we can digest the issues.

And then, let the debate begin here on this website. If we don’t exert some control over this, we’re going to get steamrolled. There have been some amazing results from crowdsourcing.

“We do amazing.” That has a familiar ring to it.

Start thinking. Start pondering. Recognize the problems. Wargame the solutions. This will be fun. And this will be vital to making it work. We need to be done with being absentee landlords.

This is our city. The folks in the government are supposed to be working for us and with us. Let’s remind everyone of that. And let’s hold them accountable for their decisions.


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.


It’s no secret that baseball has always been my sport of choice and there isn’t anyone in Columbus that wants to see minor league baseball return to Golden Park more than me. But there are some legitimate questions about the plans for renovations downtown to get things ready for the Southern League return to Columbus.

When the loudest voice saying “Hold ON!” is someone who played in the major leagues for 10 years and is now in the construction business, you have to pay attention. Glenn Davis has legitimate questions about the financing of the bond issues, and the ability of the city to pay for maintenance to the stadium.

The city of Columbus has had a checkered history with minor league baseball. We’ve had five different franchises leave for greener pasture$ since 1959, including one team that was in first place but was last in the league in attendance. The Columbus Pirates left for Gastonia, NC – a city one-tenth its size.

When the Columbus Catfish lit out for Bowling Green, KY I figured that was it for minor league baseball in Columbus. When Ignite Sports – the folks who own the River Dragons of the FPHL – brought the Chatt-a-Hoots, and then the Chattahoochee Monsters of the summer collegiate Sunbelt League to Golden Park and put butts in the seats, that changed the tune of a lot of people, including me.

But this is different. This involves a major commitment, $50 million of taxpayer money to make things happen. Will it work? Maybe, but there has to be an actual plan for the future before we start throwing money around.

Do I want the Braves to bring their Class AA team to Golden Park? Absolutely. Do I want the return of baseball to Columbus to succeed? Absolutely. And I’ll do what I can to make success happen.

But the city has a responsibility to show they have a plan that can succeed. Without it, no. Leaving the taxpayers holding the bag is wrong on so many levels.

One final note: it CAN be done. Montgomery had a checkered baseball history, but with the construction of Riverwalk Stadium in 2004, that all changed. That has to be the template for what Columbus should do. Can they do it? Stay tuned.