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Columbia moves forward — cautiously — with ballpark planning

New Columbia ballpark

The Columbia (S.C) City Council will hire a consultant to perform a cost/benefit analysis on a new ballpark pitched by MILB owner Jason Freier, as the city slows down on a proposed Bull Street facility.

Freier has been working with a local developer, who has offered free land as part of a larger Bull Street development that would including housing and retail. At one time 2015 was pitched for a potential opening date, but with the council’s actions this week it looks like 2016 would be the earliest year a ballpark could be completed. The delay and potential 2016 opening was explained to the City Council by Jason Thompson of Brailsford & Dunlavey; it apparently was news to Freier. A new 2015 ballpark could be completed if construction begins this May.

Freier owns the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low Class A; Midwest League) and Savannah Sand Gnats (Low Class A; Sally League). He successfully spearheaded development of a new ballpark in Fort Wayne and is seeking to do the same in Savannah.

The city hired Mark Simmons of Parker Poe Consulting to compile a cost/benefit analysis for a new ballpark, per The State:

The city also has hired Mark Simmons, of Parker Poe Consulting, to help with an analysis of whether Columbia would enjoy a net gain to offset the costs of a ballpark, said city economic development director Wayne Gregory.

Simmons also is to analyze how much the city would gain in property taxes, sales taxes, admission taxes, business license fees and other revenue from the investment in a stadium.

It was not clear how soon Simmons would submit his findings.

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