COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After the Columbia Blowfish lost the Coastal Plain League Championship series to the Peninsula Pilots in August, it appeared to many the final baseball game at historic Capital City Stadium had been played.
Blowfish owner Bill Shanahan had a different take on his team's future.
"Maybe the city would allow us to play back here for another season if they don't have any development yet," said Shanahan after the August 17, 2013 game. "Two years ago we faced this. A year ago we faced this. And, we face it again. But, somehow Capital City Stadium continues to live on."
It appears Shanahan, whether he knew it or not, was foreshadowing an event that has come true.
Columbia City Council members Tuesday night gave second reading approval to an agreement that would resurrect minor league baseball at Capital City Stadium for the 2014 season.
Ordinance No. 2014-005 received a very quiet first reading approval on Jan. 21.
The agreement would be between the city, Bright-Meyers 2001 LLC and Shanahan & Company, LLC for the use of the property until January 31, 2014.
The lease mirrors the same terms and conditions contained in an agreement dated July 2005.
Shanahan will be permitted to use the stadium for "baseball games open to the public" for dates in 2014 that have not yet been determined.
Since the city made the decision to sell the property and doom the stadium, Shanahan has said he would like to continue operating the Blowfish in the Midlands.
The property is in the process of being sold to Atlanta-based Bright-Meyers for commercial development.
CAPITAL CITY STATION
Bright-Meyers has been planning since 2012 to knock down the stadium and put large development, including a 150,000 square foot store and elevated parking garage, in its place.
Originally, the anchor for project, which was dubbed Capital City Station, was thought to be Walmart. In late 2012, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said it was not interested in building on the property.
Bright-Meyers then began the search for a new anchor.
Developer Matt Sasser said Tuesday he would have no problem with baseball being played at the stadium for another season.
When asked if his company was closer to finding an anchor for the development, Sasser said he was "very close."
He also indicated the original plans for an approximately 92,000 sq. ft. anchor, three smaller anchor stores and other smaller retail stores and restaurants have been altered.
The new plan for the property will include retail and housing.
Sasser declined to go into further detail about the tenants or layout of the property.
He anticipates work to begin on the new project in early spring 2015.
BASEBALL IN COLUMBIA
This agreement for Shanahan to continue fielding a team at Capital City Stadium comes at an interesting time in Columbia's baseball history.
Mayor Steve Benjamin and a host of others are pushing for the city to invest tens of millions of dollars into a new stadium to be built on the former Bull Street property being developed by Bob Hughes.
In late January, City Council voted 5-2 to approve a resolution that directs the City Manager and her staff to start working on a draft lease agreement with Hardball Capital, the ownership group interested in bringing a minor-league team to the Bull Street property.
Wilson is expected to present a draft of the agreement, which includes proposed financing and any commitments by the developer and a work plan for implementation at Tuesday night's council meeting.