As they plan their own downtown ballpark, Fayetteville officials are making a trip to Spirit Communications Park in Columbia.
The home of the Columbia Fireflies (Low A; Sally League) is serving as a model for Fayetteville as the city conceptualizes a downtown ballpark for a High-A Carolina League franchise. Given that Fayetteville wants to use the ballpark as an anchor for downtown development, Spirit Communications Park is a logical destination for a fact-finding trip, as it has been widely hailed in its first season. (In fact, yesterday, it was named our Ballpark of the Year.)
Fayetteville has also tabbed Jason Freier–CEO of Hardball Capital, which owns the Fireflies along with the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low A; Midwest league) and Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League)–as an advisor in its negotiations with the Houston Astros. Negotiations for an MOU are underway, and the city will head to Columbia to see as much as the ballpark as possible. More from the Fayetteville Observer:
The city of Fayetteville is organizing Thursday’s jaunt, which will include an operational tour of the Sprint Communications Park Stadium.
Officials also plan to meet with the mayor of Columbia and some members of the Columbia City Council and catch part of a Columbia Fireflies game before driving back to Fayetteville late Thursday night. A city minibus is scheduled to depart at 2 p.m.
Trips such as these are often taken by officials during ballpark planning processes, so it is not a surprise to see Fayetteville seeking out Spirit Communications Park. The deadline between the City and the Astros to reach an MOU is August 19.