A new Sand Gnats stadium? At Savannah River Landing? Really?

There’s a curious report from WSAV tonight: Savannah Sand Gnats Looking to Move Downtown.

Alice Massimi reports:

News Three has learned the owners of the minor league team the Savannah Sand Gnats are discussing the possibility of building a new stadium in the downtown area.

Jason Freier says they are looking at the Savannah River Landing Site.

The plan is to build a facility that would also be able to hold concerts and other major events.

The original plan for Savannah River Landing

You remember Savannah River Landing, right? It was supposed to be a massive mixed-use development at the east end of River Street, on the other side of the Hyatt Marriott. The overly ambitious plans fell apart amidst the recession and the housing bust.

There’s been occasional — and incredibly frustrating — buzz about various uses for the site, many of which sound pretty good. Despite the fact that taxpayers have spent several million on upgrades in recent years to the historic Grayson Stadium in Daffin Park, I sort of like the idea of a riverfront stadium in close proximity to tourist centers that could also be used for outdoor concerts.

The WSAV piece talks about the possibility of a “public-private partnership,” but let’s be clear: the Savannah River Landing site is owned by an investment group primarily backed by a Canadian public sector pension fund. See here in the SMN from early 2010.

I really can’t imagine that the current owners would sell the site for anything less than $50 million. There hasn’t been any number officially stated, so that’s just a guess — but I consider it a pretty conservative one. The investors have already spent tens of millions of dollars on the site, yet public officials and private businesspeople who should know better keep talking as if the site is up for grabs.

As I have discussed previously, the city is already tens of millions of dollars short in revenue needed to complete infrastructure projects — like a new arena — already mandated by voters. Could the Sand Gnats facility be a stand in for the new arena? Indoor Single A baseball? Does that make any sense? In any case, we only have about $20 million set aside for arena funding — nowhere near enough even to purchase the Savannah River Landing site.