Columbus City Council votes to keep Golden Park open - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus City Council votes to keep Golden Park open

Golden Park (Source: Jose Zozaya / WTVM) Golden Park (Source: Jose Zozaya / WTVM)

Columbus, GA (WTVM) – The Columbus City Council considered potentially shutting down and selling Golden Park.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley urged the council’s members to move forward with this plan.
 
Recently, the historic landmark’s site was appraised for a total of $3.735 million. After Tuesday night's deliberation, the council will not move forward with Hugley’s suggestion.    
 
Should the council have decided to close the park, a variety of community groups - notably, local baseball leagues - would have lost the opportunity to play in what appears to be a still functional venue.  
 
Beyond that, the park’s shutdown and sale would have attracted private developers interested in constructing new projects and creating more business in the Riverfront District. 
 
Since first opening its doors in 1926, Golden Park has served as a gathering place for ballplayers – professional and amateur –to compete and partake in America’s pastime.  
 
Over the years, a list of Major League Baseball legends has come to play here at Golden Park. That list includes greats such as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Atlanta Braves great, Hank Aaron.
 
In addition, Golden Park hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics softball events, where the U.S. National team took home the gold medal.  
 
Decades have passed, as have a slew of minor league baseball teams, including the Columbus Red Stixx, Catfish, and most recently, the Wood Bats, who called Golden Park home in 2009. 
 
In the seven years after the Wood Bats’ exit, the only people using this field are players involved in either amateur or high school baseball leagues.

Despite the lower turnouts, some players say the field is more than equipped to host real games.

Gary Gomez, president of the Billy Hitchcock Men’s Senior Baseball League, based in Auburn, said the field is still in great condition, and that the players love coming to the stadium with their families cheering in the stands.  
 
"Golden Park has been a godsend to us,” he said, “and it’s a great ballpark.”

The potential sale could have also left teams like the Shaw High School Baseball Raiders without an alternative venue to host night games for teams traveling from out of town.  
 
The Raiders’ head coach, Pat McGregor, said it is a benefit to be able to call the local Parks and Recreation department and quickly set up a game at Golden Park on days where the sun sets sooner in the day.

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