It appears that the Macon Music, the team that was going to have Eliot Spitzer Night this season, along with the rest of the Southeast League will not be playing baseball this summer. The league annouced that they will suspend operations for the upcoming 2008 season. This is not the first time a Macon team has gone belly up like a goldfish in a bowl after one season. The 2003 Macon Peaches, of the now-defunct South Coast League, had problems with a fire, later determined to be arson, that destoryed the club's offices and not one but two break-ins of the press box, in which the public address system was stolen. I know this for a fact because I worked for that team at that time.
The Macon club was in finanical trouble this year, losing its lights and water for non-payment to the city of Macon to use Luther Wiliiams Field. Former Music field manager Phil Plantier has said that the league still owed him money from last season. Plantier said in February that the league had yet to give him his final paycheck and reimbursement for housing and travel expenses. The irony of all of this? The team led the league in attendance, with over 73,000 tickets sold in 2007. The Music is not the first minor league team in that city to have trouble. I have seen this trend with my own eyes and it bugs the ever-living hell out of me.Twelve teams, not including the Music, have set up camp in Macon and subsequently either left or folded. Two of those teams didn't even make it through one full season.
Here's a list of the teams that have gone down the drain, so to speak.
FOOTBALL Macon Knights (AFL 2): 2001-’06
BASEBALL Macon Peaches (Southern League): 1904-’16; 1923-’30; 1936-’42; 1946-’55; 1964-'67; 2003 Macon Tigers (Southern League): 1917 Macon Dodgers (Southern League): 1956-’60 Macon Redbirds (South Atlantic League): 1983 Macon Pirates (South Atlantic League): 1984-’87 Macon Braves (South Atlantic League): 1991-2002 Macon Music (South Coast League): 2007-present
BASKETBALL Georgia Titans: 1977-’78 (team did not complete the season) Macon Blaze: 2004-’05 Georgia Gwizzlies: 2007-present
Macon Whoopees: 1973-’74 (team did not complete the season) Macon Whoopee: 1995-2002 Macon Trax: 2002-’05
So what then is the problem with Macon? For one, it's the facilities that they play in. Granted, Luther Williams Field is the third oldest ballpark currently still being used. It's not a bad place to play or watch a game. It survived major flood damage in 1994 and was the place where Pete Rose and John "Blue Moon" Odom got their starts in pro ball, as well as Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, John Rocker, Jose Lind, Vince Coleman and other professional players (both current and retired) that have graced that field.
The Macon Coliseum, on the other hand is a DUMP! It's a dinosaur that needs to die. May I suggest a good stick of TNT and some nitro? It's old, outdated and the only good thing about it is that the Georgia High School Association Basketball championships are held there. Until a few years ago, Mercer University played their home games there before moving on campus.
Number two, the apathy. Macon is only about a 90-minute drive from Atlanta. It's not that exciting a town (and I can say that, having been born there!). The city is really run by old money, not new. Enough said.
Thirdly, they don't know how to market a team. Most of the time, it's word of mouth. That's fine if you want a small intimate gathering. But if you have a 4,500 seat stadium, you want to hit the ground running. That means billboards, ads on buses and taxicabs, getting your name and face out in public. They could have done a better job of doing that. I'm not suggesting that these teams should have started a superstation, like the Cubs, White Sox and Braves. It'll cost you, I will grant you that. But it can be done if it's done right.
A ballpark sits empty yet again. It's a shame. It would have been fun to see the Music play baseball this summer in Macon. I had sent them my resume with the intention of working for them this summer and was going to share the experience on AMG. It's not to be. Maybe next year. If they get their ducks in a row.