What would it take to get a pro sports team in South Georgia?
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Professional sports teams once lived in the Southwest Georgia area, but recently it’s been years since the area has had a sports team.
On Monday, WALB’s Jim Wallace sat down with Dr. Chris Barnhill with the Sports Management Program at Georgia Southern University regarding this matter.
“What’s it going to take as pro sports explodes across the state of Georgia, for it to come back to Southwest Georgia?” Wallace asked.
“You know, what we are seeing in Savannah and Macon and Statesboro, is we have seen some dynamic ownership. Really people who really understand the community. And not selling sports so much as they are selling the idea of something unique within the community. So we have the Savannah Bananas in Savannah. And we have their ownership group, they sell Banana Ball. It’s not professional baseball, it’s Banana Ball. It’s their own version of entertainment. Tormenta in Statesboro, the U.S.S.L. soccer team. They are selling a tie with the community, and they have really gone out of their way. To really adopt the idea that Statesboro is too small to have a professional sports team, and we can really make it work together. In Macon, they have kind of adapted with the Macon Bacon. And they have taken on their own identity. So I think what we are seeing right now in the minor league pro sports industry, is the organizations that are really successful, they really try to carve out a relationship that is unique to them and their community. It’s not necessarily about the sport. It’s about the community rallying around this thing that is uniquely their own. So I think in Albany, you already have facilities. It’s just finding that entrepreneur who wants to come in and say OK, what could we do that would make a hockey team, or a baseball team, something unique in Albany. Because that’s really where sports is headed,” Barnhill replied.
Wallace asked, “do you think the reason sports are exploding across the state of Georgia, is people are ready to get out after the pandemic?”
“Absolutely, absolutely. People don’t want to be inside anymore. Sports is, even though we are in these crowds together, people feel more comfortable outside. Especially the outdoor sports have really taken off. But now people are feeling more comfortable about being back in the arena. They just want that connection. They want something to cheer for as a community. And sports gives us that. It’s a chance to forget everything that’s been going on, and just have fun for a few hours,” said Barnhill.
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