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Columbia approves new-ballpark project

New Columbia ballpark

As expected, the Columbia (S.C.) City Council approved a development deal for a new Bull Street ballpark, with the team to be supplied by Hardball Capital’s Jason Freier.

Freier, who owns the Savannah Sand Gnats (Low Class A; Sally League) and the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low Class A; Midwest League), is obliged to supply a team (though not necessarily one he currently owns) by the time the ballpark opens in 2016. There were few new provisions to the plan passed by the City Council on April 9 — the vote that really set the wheels in motion. This vote, by contrast, was a mere formality. From COLA Daily:

Developer Bob Hughes and Hardball Capital owner Jason Freier are required to provide parking until the city builds a garage. Currently, the city is seeking a private developer to build the parking garage and cut the costs.

A clause in the agreement requires the city to pay $50,000 per week in damages if there is a delay in completing construction. The agreement states the fee is intended to pay for penalties and fines assessed by the Office of the Commissioner of Minor League Baseball as a late opening charge.

The charges would cover various expenses including payroll, administrative expenses, travel and lodging expenses, equipment costs, League and National Association dues and debt service on the Hardball Capital’s $6 million contribution to the venue.

The deal with Hardball Capital commits the city to borrowing $29 million for the ballpark construction and infrastructure costs. Hardball Capital will pay $6 million toward the $35-million ballpark construction cost. Changes were made in the deal to encourage development in the Bull Street area where the ballpark is to be located, as well as to shift some other costs — utilities, mainly — to Hardball. Hardball Capital will manage the ballpark (technically, the Council was voting on a management contract back in April) and supply a team.

RELATED STORIES: Columbia approves new ballpark; Columbia mayor: We have votes to fund new ballpark; New Columbia ballpark receives initial city approval; Columbia ballpark proposal up for vote today; 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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