Mayor Steve Benjamin has scheduled a series of forums to discuss the prospect of baseball in Columbia. File photo
A new study says the city’s economy is robust enough to support and benefit from baseball. Meanwhile, a minor-league baseball team owner is making the rounds of Columbia, and the mayor is scheduling a series of public forums on bringing minor-league baseball back to Columbia.
In other words, it’s time to talk baseball.
According to a feasibility study by the firm Brailsford & Dunlavey released Jan. 3 by the city, a minor-league baseball stadium in Columbia could generate $400 million in economic impact, including $18.5 million in tax revenues, over the next 30 years.
The study notes that Columbia is among the biggest markets in the U.S. without professional sports of any kind. It has a population of 713,702 within a 30-minute drive, and that population is projected to grow 4.3 percent to 745,00 by 2018. The area has reasonably high household income and a significant corporate presence, all of which would help support a team.
However, as Baseball Digest notes in an article on the study, a minor-league team could be forced to compete for attention with the championship-winning Gamecocks baseball team.
The report fails to explore any downsides to minor-league baseball, listing only the potential economic benefits and jobs created by a minor-league team.
However, as Columbia policy analyst and baseball fan John Ruoff has told Free Times, minor-league baseball “doesn’t create much in terms of good, sustainable jobs”: Ballpark jobs tend to be part-time, seasonal, low-paying jobs. Ruoff also points out that public money spent on a stadium would be money the city couldn’t put elsewhere.
The average Class A minor-league stadium built during the last decade cost $38 million to build, the study notes, and that funding came largely from public sources. Columbia has already committed to raising public money for a stadium at the Bull Street campus if it’s deemed feasible.
Columbia City Council commissioned the study at a cost of $50,000. As Free Times went to press, Council was preparing to hear the results of the study at its evening meeting.
Meanwhile, Jason Freier, the CEO of Hardball Capital, has been making the rounds of Columbia; he spoke to the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, and has reached out to media including Free Times over the past month. Freier built a 6,100-seat, $31 million minor-league stadium for the Fort Wayne, Ind. TinCaps, which opened in 2009. He also owns the Savannah Sand Gnats, which are reportedly considering a move to Columbia.
As baseball talk winds up, Mayor Steve Benjamin has scheduled a series of forums to discuss the prospect of baseball in Columbia. The mayor is a longtime supporter of bringing minor-league ball to the city.
Benjamin’s first community forum on “the opportunity to bring a multi-use sports and entertainment venue to Columbia” is set for Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the main branch of the Richland Library.
Make your own beer and wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop, 736 St. Andrews Road. Click to find out how!
A Healthy Happy Hour
4-7 p.m at Good Life Cafe on Main St. Try our $4 local draft beers, $4 organic wine, 1/2 off select bottles of house wine and $5 handcrafted house cocktails with juices cold pressed and made daily. Click here for more info.
The Castle Summer Camps
Clown Camp: Ages 7-12. Week of July 28 • Zombie Camp: Ages 10-15. Week of August 4. $125 per camp, discounts for siblings! 2076 Hwy Church Rd. 803-309-5586. TheEventCastle@yahoo.com
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
$7 Special Summer Menu at Tony’s Downtown
Stop in and try our special $7 summer menu (tax and drink included!) at Tony’s Pizza & Italian Eatery, downtown Columbia. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2.
Trustus Theatre Presents Evil Dead, The Musical
This musical version of Sam Raimi’s cult classic films promises to serve up more humor than horror. You can read more and purchase your tickets here.
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Local restaurants serving locally grown food during Palmetto Tasty Tomato Restaurant Feast, July 11-18: