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Future of Columbia baseball in play

Columbia BlowfishBaseball in Columbia, S.C. is apparently at a crossroads: One developer reportedly wants to buy and tear down historic Capital City Stadium, while another says he’s looking at a new ballpark as the center of a larger development.

Capital City Stadium dates back to 1945 and was built by former Pittsburgh Pirates owner and Hall of Famer Barney Dreyfuss as part of his minor-league empire; today it’s the home of the Columbia Blowfish (summer collegiate, Coastal Plain League), one of the better-drawing teams in the league. Michael Savit and Bill Shanahan of HWS Group  and the Mobile BayBears (Class AA; Southern League) are owners of the Blowfish.

Meanwhile, Greenville developer Bob Hughes is negotiating to buy 165 acres of prime downtown land; in the past he’s mentioned pro baseball as a possible part of the development, and there’s certainly enough land to do something major and include a ballpark. Hughes need look no farther than his hometown, Greenville, for a blueprint on how to successfully develop a ballpark as part of a thriving neighborhood.

Columbia is one of the better markets to lack affiliated baseball; it’s definitely on the radar of affiliated owners, and the lack of a suitable facility has been the drawback in pro baseball returning. It supports the Blowfish well enough, and it’s the #77 TV market in the U.S., larger than Savannah; Charleston, S.C.; Augusta, Ga.; and Wilmington, N.C. in the region. Because of its location, it could be part of the Class AA Southern League (very unlikely, though), High Class A Carolina League or Low Class A South Atlantic League. Its last affiliated team, the Capital City Bombers, was a Low Class A Sally League team.

All of this talk is in the early stages; there have been no negotiations to sell the historic ballpark, much less an agreement to buy. Still, where there’s smoke….


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