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Room to Grow in Columbia

Spirit Communications Park opening, 2016

By most measures, the inaugural season of the Columbia Fireflies (Low A; Sally League) and Spirit Communications Park has been a big success, though there is still room to grow.

Spirit Communications Park opened with a bang in April. The Fireflies drew over 9,000 fans for their first game, and the ballpark was heralded by many–including us–for its stunning design and potential to generate spin off development.

Entering Wednesday’s action, the Fireflies have drawn 162,398 fans through 42 openings, amounting to a per-game average of 3,867 that ranks sixth in the 14-team South Atlantic League. The total attendance figure is already the highest of any professional baseball team in Columbia history, but there is reason to believe that the numbers may rise in the future.

The Fireflies are the centerpiece of the mixed-use Bull Street development, which is being conceived on the site of a former mental health facility. Spirit Communications Park was the first major piece to be completed. While this enabled the team’s arrival from Savannah, the Fireflies are going to have to wait a little while before construction around the ballpark ceases and new development moves in.

For local officials and developers, the goal is to make that happen sooner rather than later. More from the Free Times:

They are in the middle of a construction zone,” at-large Columbia City Councilman Howard Duvall says. “I’m looking forward to the time when the project is to the point that we have things already built there that complement the stadium, where people can come shop, go to the movies and go to the ballgame, too. I don’t think that’s but more than about a year away.”

Hughes or his associates have not yet announced the name of any retailers or restaurants set for the development called Commons at BullStreet. Robert Hughes, Bob Hughes’ son and partner, told Free Times retail announcements are on the way.

“Our retail development partner is continuing to have success signing up retailers who, by contract, will make their own announcements when they feel the time is right,” Hughes says. “We are confident those announcements will start being made soon.”

Hughes also says the development of the Bull Street project, which was slated to be a 20-year job, is ahead of schedule.

Once completed, the Bull Street development is expected to include housing, retail, dining, a tech village, movie theater, and more.

RELATED STORIES: Spirit Communications Park / Columbia Fireflies

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