Updated March 28, 9:50 AM CT
"Best media center in sports"
The new media center at Augusta National, is rumored to cost $56 million and constructed in nine months thanks to 20-hour workdays, feature a 150-seat interview room with a hands-free microphone at each desk, locker rooms with showers and complimentary sunscreen, a restaurant with waiter service and about 350 work stations with two monitors, swiveling leather chairs and a panoramic view of the club's practice area.
"I'm looking out at the driving range," Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson said. "If this were a U.S. Open, right now I'd be in Aiken, (S.C.)."
The club has been gobbling up land around its perimeter for years, including recent purchases of land on Washington Road that housed a Pep Boys ($6.9 million) and Jay's Music Center ($5.35 million).
The club also gave the city a loan for a $17 million project to reroute Berckmans Road.
Before 2016, ticket holders entering on Berckmans would have to listen to someone on a bullhorn warning that they would go to hell if they don't obey Jesus' command. Now that area is private property, and the extra space contains free, landscaped parking for spectators and the new media palace.
The plan is to rebuild and expand the merchandise shop and to improve circulation so it's easier for fans to get around the high-traffic area. And while it's true the new press building is farther from the first tee and Amen Corner, it's merely a two-minute shuttle ride to the first fairway.
"It was a big tournament but not huge like it is now," said Doug Frohman, owner of Jay's Music Center with wife Vera. "Behind me was a wonderful little neighborhood, people who lived there forever."
The Frohmans and their neighbors charged five bucks for Masters parking. Then $15, then $20, then $30 ...
Augusta National officials have bought up nearly every house in the area, paying five to 10 times the appraised value. And after Berckmans was rerouted, limiting foot traffic, the Frohmans finally agreed to sell. They moved out in November and are renovating a new location two miles down Washington Road.
"It was like David versus Goliath," Doug Frohman told the Tribune. "It wasn't a pleasant experience. We still have Band-Aids over the bruises. My wife didn't really want to sell. She gets emotional about it. We were in the heart of things for 25 years. In one respect, I wish we'd stayed."
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