City leaders moving forward with Bull Street development

Published: Apr. 10, 2014 at 2:56 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - On Tuesday, Columbia City Council agreed to enter into an agreement with Hardball Capital LLC to bring a minor league team to the capital city.

As part of the agreement, the city plans to build a new baseball stadium on Bull Street.

City leaders approved the measure by a 4-3 vote

Some council members still say the city needs another study while an activist vows to keep fighting.

"Well, for me, I feel like we still need to complete our due diligence," said Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine.

Devine did not vote in favor of the proposal.

One of her biggest concerns was the city never completed a cost-benefit analysis.

"It's a huge public investment, and for the citizens of Columbia to get a return on that investment that means it has to be a wise investment," Devine said.

Activist Ari Derrick said Good Sense Columbia, a grassroots group opposing the stadium, will keep fighting.

"We have not finished yet," Derrick said. "We still think this is a very bad deal for the City of Columbia, and there are still a lot of things to be decided."

Derrick said she fears the project might go belly up at the taxpayer's expense.

"I don't think anybody's going to relocate because of a minor league baseball stadium," Derrick said.

Mayor Steve Benjamin paints a different picture.

The development, which is now called Columbia Commons, could attract restaurants, a movie theater, high-end hotels and other retail spaces.

"You know, he has a grand vision, and I think it certainly is intriguing, but at this point, we don't have any commitment, so it's kind of hard to say whether or not that stuff will really happen," Devine said.

Hardball Capital has agreed to pay $6 million. The City of Columbia will have to pay $29 million for the rest of the project.

We don't know what team will be coming to Columbia but there's been plenty of speculation that it could be the Savannah Sand Gnats.

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