ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Paul Eames Sports Complex has been the home to several failed minor league teams over the years and the facility has fallen into disrepair.
A plan presented by a local youth sports director proposes a new life for the ball park aimed at drawing people year-round.
But it will take millions of tax dollars to make this dream a reality.
High school baseball games are played out at Paul Eames Sports Park.
But, most days the park is empty.
Hayes Cook, Team Elite South Director, told city commissioners at Tuesday's work session that Paul Eames Ballpark is a "hidden gem" and he believes he can fill the park by bringing youth sports year-round.
"We travel every weekend to go to a lot of different places that are rather small, non-inviting towns and we spend our money in those towns to play a game that we love. We have all of that (Paul Eames baseball fields) right here, why can't we do it here?" said Cook.
Youth travel baseball is active 9 months a year, and the players travel with an entourage, many times including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters.
"When you talk about bringing in baseball and softball tournaments, you are talking about 10-12 kids per team. That's 10-12 families that will travel with them," said Scott Carter, from USSSA Baseball, the nation's largest amateur sporting association.
"Albany has all the resources (to support youth travel sports). We have the hotel rooms, we have the good hotels, great restaurants, so this is an opportunity for us to monopolize on everything going on around us," said Rashelle Beasley, Albany's Convention and Visitor's Bureau Director.
But, the key to making any renovation of Paul Eames work is adding artificial turf to the four fields, according to Cook and Carter.
"Kids want to play on major league style surfaces. Teams from Alabama and Florida will travel here to play on those fields," said Carter.
Supporters say there are many South Georgia families who participate in travel ball. They believe having a place for local families to call home with a renovated Paul Eames Sports Complex will both grow the sport and keep dollars local.
Cook also cited the success story of Emerson, a small town near Cartersville in North Georgia. The city invested in four turf baseball fields, with nothing but a single gas station nearby.
"If you drive up there today, 36 months later, there are multiple restaurants, hotels, eight baseball fields, plus hundreds of thousands of square feet of undercover basketball. It is incredible the activity that has boomed there in just three years," says Cook.
Supporters asked the city commission to consider setting aside SPLOST money to pay for the project, which will include tennis courts and a soccer field, with the intention of having year-round youth sports of all kinds.
There was no actual figure for the renovation, but the city manager believed it will cost in the "millions". In contrast, building a new facility will cost upwards of $25-million dollars, according to Cook.
Cook says, "I think you have to look at it from a financial standpoint. You could spend $20-$25 million dollars building new, or spend a fraction of that to renovate an already good starting point and have a top-notch facility for minimal dollars."