City officials, community leaders taken to Durham for minor-leag - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

City officials, community leaders taken to Durham for minor-league baseball game

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The management group that has a contract to bring a minor-league baseball team to Columbia is taking city and community leaders to a baseball game Thursday.

Jason Freier with Hardball Capital has been planning the outing for several months. He is taking Columbia leaders to Durham, NC, for a Bulls game, to show them similarities with what his company plans to do with the ballpark proposed for Bull Street.

The City of Columbia has a contract with Hardball Capital to build a multi-use entertainment venue in the Bull Street development which will be the home field for a minor-league baseball team.

Although Hardball Capital does not own the Bulls, Freier says he has a good relationship with the owners of the Bulls and they agreed to the idea. Hardball Capital owns teams in Savannah, GA and Fort Wayne, IN.

Freier says because the Savannah team plays in a 1920's-era ballpark lacking modern amenities and corporate boxes, the Sand Gnats would not be a good example of what Hardball Capital plans to do in Columbia. Several individual members of council traveled to Fort Wayne to see how Hardball Capital operates the Tin Caps.

The $16 million Durham Bulls Athletic Park opened in 1995. In 1998, seats were added to bring the capacity 10,000 at a cost of $20 million, according to ballparkbiz.com.

Durham officials say the ballpark has been a catalyst for development in the surrounding neighborhood.  Mayor Steve Benjamin, who has been a supporter of the ballpark on Bull Street, expects the same to happen in Columbia once the ballpark is built.

Buses filled with city officials are scheduled to leave Columbia around noon Thursday. The Bulls play the Buffalo Bisons in a double-header, with the first game starting at 6 p.m.

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