City of Newnan officials held two public meetings last week to receive input on the proposed sports and entertainment district.
The first meeting was held at the Newnan Centre on Tuesday, and the second one was at Newnan City Hall Thursday. Both had a large turnout from the community.
“We’re still going through our due diligence,” City Manager Cleatus Phillips said. “We need your input, and we value your input.”
The sports and entertainment venue – tentatively called The NEST (Newnan Entertainment and Sports District) – would be located on a 14-acre tract of land located east of I-85, near the intersection of Diplomat Parkway and Newnan Crossing Boulevard.
The tract is adjacent to an additional 8.5 acres of land, which would be developed to complement the proposed city project. With the construction of the facility, Newnan would be in the running for its own Coastal Plains League Team, like the Macon Bacon or Savannah Bananas, city officials said.
The venue would also be utilized for concerts, festivals and other sporting events.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, Steve Morrow of Comprehensive Program Services introduced the partner groups that would be involved in the project.
Morrow said CPS specializes in bringing the groups involved in the project together to provide city officials with information they need to help the public understand what the project might entail.
“What we did was try to bring all the expertise in the room to allow the public to be able to ask questions, and as Cleatus said, leave comments and give us input that we need to hear,” Morrow said.
Representatives from partner groups were available to speak with attendees individually about the project, along with city staff and the design team.
The consulting and feasibility groups set up tables to discuss financing structure and the impact on the economy and quality of life. After asking questions and speaking with representatives, those who attended were encouraged to fill out comment cards.
Among those who showed up to Tuesday’s meeting to give the city feedback was Lori Whitney.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “My main reason for coming out is to strongly suggest that they make it handicap accessible.”
Whitney said she has a 19-year-old daughter who is handicapped and loves baseball. She said that Truist Park, formerly Suntrust Park, claims to be handicap accessible, but that she has had a tough time navigating the stadium.
The sports and entertainment district project began last fall, when city staff were approached by a local for-profit group – Newnan Grand Slam LLC – about the public-private partnership.
The city owns the land, handles the construction and owns the building, but that’s as far as their involvement goes, according to Assistant City Manager Hasco Craver.
Newnan Grand Slam LLC would contract with baseball team owners, concert planners, special event planners, breweries and restaurants.
A “Mini Battery” – similar to The Battery at Truist Park, formerly SunTrust Park – would occupy the property adjacent to the facility, and would house a mixture of residential and retail.
The facility would be able to handle 2,500 occupants in fixed seating but could handle even more if the situation arose.
“We’re open to it, it’s definitely up our alley,” resident Trent Scarborough said. “I could understand people being upset about traffic.”
In addition to a summer baseball league, city officials anticipate other sporting events, festivals and even concerts with the help of RCS Productions – an Atlanta-based event production company that procures talent and provides concert production services for more than 180 events a year in the southeast US.
The company also consults with communities and design-build teams for amphitheaters and park performance spaces. Southern Ground Amphitheater, Northside Cherokee Woodstock Amphitheater, Duluth Festival Center and Suwanee Town Center Park are a few of the projects the company has helped develop.
“It would be cool to not have to drive up to Alpharetta for something like that,” Newnan resident Logan Smith said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Newnan Mayor Keith Brady said they don’t have specific numbers about the cost yet, because of how early it is in the process.
The facility would be funded through the Newnan Development Authority, similar to the partnership between the University of West Georgia and Downtown Development Authority, which made the UWG Newnan Project a reality several years ago.
The main difference between the two projects, according to Craver, is that the city will continue to receive regular lease payments on the sports and entertainment venue.
“I am positively disposed initially. I’m very concerned about the financial obligations the city will be asked to consume,” Newnan resident Jocelyn Palmer said.
A special called meeting about the entertainment and sports district will be held Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 5 p.m. at Newnan City Hall, 25 LaGrange Street. The meeting will take place before the regularly scheduled council meeting at 6:30 p.m.