Gnats want to rekindle stadium talks - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Gnats want to rekindle stadium talks

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The Savannah Sand Gnats would like to restart the discussion about a possible new baseball stadium for Savannah.

Team officials will be leaving the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando early to attend the Savannah City Council workshop on Thursday, where they hope to get council talking about the idea again.

The team will not be making a formal proposal at this point.

"We just see this as an opportunity to reintroduce the subject,'' part-owner Jason Freier said from the Winter Meetings. "We'll get into as many details as the city wants to get into. The issue has been out there for some time. The city has had a lot of things that have required focus. We would just like to reintroduce this.''

The Gnats have made it known for years that they would like to have a replacement for 87-year-old Grayson Stadium.

They are proposing a project using both public and private money, so it will require council's participation.

The team also has a stadium site it prefers, the Savannah River Landing site that is sitting dormant.  Freier says a stadium could be a catalyst for other development at Savannah River Landing and, once built, would generate tax revenue for the city as well as foot traffic for any businesses around it.

"We think that's the site that makes the most sense,'' said Freier.

The Savannah City Council has talked about this possibility before and has visited stadiums in other cities for preliminary research.

Councilman Van Johnson says they are willing to reopen discussions on this casual level now.

"We know that we are a city that has millions of visitors every year,'' said Johnson. "We know that we have the Sally League champions right here in our community. If there's a way to keep them here and address our continuing and growing entertainment needs, I mean, it's worth looking at.

"We owe it to our constituents to continue to look at things and figure the feasibility of them, will they fit in our community, do they have a present and future use here?''

Freier says the team would be putting up the majority of the money for the stadium's construction and is also willing to assume all operation and maintenance costs.

The up-front price tag for the city still could be between $1.6 and $1.8 million per year for 30 years to get the stadium built.

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