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Tanner: College, pro baseball can co-exist in Columbia

Proposed new Columbia ballpark site

Legendary University of South Carolina baseball coach Ray Tanner says pro baseball can co-exist with the Gamecocks, one of the best-drawing teams in the NCAA.

Tanner, who led the Gamecocks to two national championships before taking over as athletic director at USC, says there are clear differences between the college game and professional baseball. It’s an issue he’s well-versed in: during the planning and construction of Carolina Stadium, there was talk of USC sharing a ballpark with the Capitol City Bombers (Low Class A; Sally League), who ended up moving to Greenville, S.C.

Jason Freier, the veteran MiLB owner and operator working to bring pro baseball to an undeveloped Bull Street area, met with Tanner to discuss the market, and the two agreed pro and college baseball could coexist. From The State:

“Could we co-exist? Certainly,” he said. “I don’t see it as we are going to be in competition with the minor league team. You can’t convince me that’s an issue. We live in a city where you shop at one grocery store over another grocery store, and the other grocery store stays in business.”

Tanner also stressed to the Rotary Club that he is not advocating for the construction of a new stadium.

“The city council and the mayor, they are the ones that make the decision if it’s the right thing for the Bull Street development,” he said. “I don’t know enough to take an educated stand on that, but should they go in that direction, is it going to be competition for us? I don’t see it that way.”

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