COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Fans, get ready! Baseball is returning to the Fountain City. The city of Columbus has had plenty of teams pack up and leave, such as the Red Stixx and the Wood Bats.
The Columbus Catfish in 2008 was the last time professional baseball was played down at Golden Park. The Catfish are just the latest in a long line of franchises that did not make the cut, either organizationally or from lack of fan support, but now a revamp is in the works for 2021.
After the historic Golden Park Stadium sat empty for 12 years, now the question is what the team name will be?
In similar fashion to the Columbus River Dragons, the managers are asking for community input in deciding what the Columbus baseball team will be named come next summer.
“We will have America’s greatest pastime back in play right here at historic Golden Park," deputy city manager Lisa Goodwin said.
The historic Golden Park in Columbus that dates back to 1926 is prepping to open its gates with a new baseball team in a stadium that seats 5,000.
“The skeleton of the building is in great shape," team president and general manager Scott Brand said.
With a nearly century old stadium, there are some much needed upgrades the team will work with the city to fix.
“Obviously, we have to clean the stadium, power wash the stadium, paint the stadium, that all needs to be done. There’s a lot of small repairs that have to be done, as you can tell we need a new backstop or net, or make sure everyone with gloves sits behind that hole," Brand said. “We have to do that between now and June 4th, which I believe will be opening night.”
The Columbus baseball team will be part of the Sunbelt Baseball League.
Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting, Zak DeBeaussaert said, “We are planning a name the team contest that will start up next week and run for a little bit of time to garner suggestions, gauge the community to see what the team should be called.”
The goal is to make this whole project community centered.
“We’re going to partner together create summer jobs for at risk youth, and management for those who need a break, and we also want seniors as our ushers. This has to be an all-inclusive project to represent everyone in the community,” Brand said.
There is a plan in place if the COVID-19 pandemic persists through summer, but the hope is that coronavirus will not play a role in summer games.
The last time Golden Park was renovated was more than 25 years ago, in 1994 in anticipation of the softball events of the 1996 Summer Olympics.