Sand Gnats moving to Columbia? - - Columbia, South Carolina

Sand Gnats moving to Columbia?


On Tuesday night, the Columbia City Council voted to build a new, state-of-the-art stadium for Savannah Sand Gnats' owners Hardball Capital, casting uncertainty on the minor league baseball team's future in the Hostess City.

The Sand Gnats contract to stay at Savannah's Grayson Stadium expires at the end of this season.

Hardball Capital has asked the city of Savannah to help pay for upgrades to the stadium, or to build a new stadium entirely. Absent that, Hardball may move the team to Columbia.

The company's CEO, Jason Freier, said he wants to keep the city in Savannah but cannot afford to stay in Grayson as it currently stands, and cannot pay for upgrades, keep ticket prices low, and turn a profit.

Freier says the Sand Gnats struggle to attract fans, and when they do, like last week's opening day, it is hard to get everyone in the stands, served food and drink, and in and out of limited bathroom space in a timely fashion.

"A lot of the fans who came on opening day spent an awful lot of their time in line and not enjoying the game, or Grayson Stadium, or anything like that," Freier said.  "And, the problem is if we don't draw people, we are not going to be successful, but when we are successful drawing people, we have a difficult time serving them."

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