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Columbia ballpark proposal up for vote today

Proposed Columbia ballpark

A proposal for a new Columbia (S.C.) ballpark for a team owned by Hardball Capital’s Jason Freier is up for a vote today by the City Council, as the veteran MiLB operator ups his financial commitment to the project.

What’s new: Hardball Capital would pay the city up to $516,000 annually if the proposed Bull Street development did not attract $30 million in private investment. The rationale is that Hardball Capital should be a partner in the development process, though most observers are expecting the development to easily attract that level of private investment, as the city works to make changes on the site of a former state mental asylum.

The financing plan is set. Hardball Capital will pay $6 million up front for ballpark construction. The total cost of the ballpark is budgeted at $35 million, and the city would bond the remaining $29 million. Other sources of funding for the city includes shares of ticket revenues past 275,000 annually and half of any naming-rights deal, up to $350,000. From The State:

“If we are talking about this as being an economic-development generator, it wasn’t an unfair request to say why don’t you guarantee some economic development or are you willing to share the pain if the economic development isn’t what we expect or until it comes online,” Jason Freier, Hardball Capital’s chief executive officer, said Monday.

The latest version of the proposed contract, which guarantees the team will play in the stadium for 30 years, requires Hardball Capital to pay $6 million toward the stadium’s construction. That’s about 17 percent of the construction costs.

The proposed contract also provides the city revenue through annual licensing fees based on attendance, a cut of sales from the concession stands and a portion of naming rights for the stadium.

No decision has been made as to what team would be moved to the new ballpark. Freier also owns the Savannah Sand Gnats (Low Class A; Sally League) and has been working with the city on a new-ballpark proposal for that team.

RELATED STORIES: Freier: We’re still pursuing new Savannah ballpark; Columbia lease negotiations underway; opposition arises; Columbia moves forward — cautiously — with ballpark planning; Freier: I may acquire new team for Columbia; Tanner: College, pro baseball can co-exist in Columbia; Freier: We could open new Columbia ballpark in 2015; New ballpark feasible for Columbia: study; This year should determine future of Sand Gnats; Columbia to study ballpark sites, feasibility; Sand Gnats exploring Columbia move?; Will pro baseball return to Columbia?Final days for Cap City StadiumShanahan: Blowfish negotiating move to Lexington CountyColumbia sells Capital City Stadium siteLooking back at Cap City StadiumClass A ball returning to Columbia?Columbia sells Capital City Stadium; Wal-Mart on the wayFuture of Columbia baseball in play


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