Council approves loan for Bull Street ballpark

Columbia City Council has taken a final vote on a loan to build a ballpark on the Bull Street site.

The second and final vote was four to one on an ordinance that allows the city to issue Special Obligation Bonds to raise up to $35 million to pay for construction of the multi-use entertainment venue at the Bull Street development.

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Council member Moe Baddoruah cast the lone "no" vote.

"I don't want to see it fail," Baddoruah said. "I want to see it successful but you have to be cautious. You have to wonder if this might be the right moves for Columbia at this time."

City officials estimated the total public contribution to the ballpark construction would be about $29 million. That is the amount of the loan the city would repay over 30 years using revenue from the city's hospitality tax.

The deal also includes a commitment by the owner of Hardball Capital, Jason Freier, to contribute another $6 million. Hardball Capital has told city officials if a ballpark is built, it will bring a minor-league baseball team to Columbia.

"Obviously we anticipated last night's note would go this way," Freier told WIS. "Also having the ballpark just creates tremendous views interest a sense of place. We think that this not only creates something great for the citizens of Columbia but it will really help create something much much larger."

"By imposing the Hospitality Fees, the City has provided a method to alleviate the

increased financial burden on resources of the City and its citizens in providing services and

facilities needed to attract and support tourism," reads the ordinance. "Moneys generated by the Hospitality Fees are or may be used to finance the acquisition, construction and renovation of facilities which will serve and attract visitors and tourists or to provide municipal services which serve visitors and tourists."

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