With a new redevelopment plan for the Capital City Stadium site taking shape, Columbia, SC officials and a developer reached an agreement that includes funding for a documentary and tour of the historic ballpark.
The former home of the Columbia Mets/Capital City Bombers (Low A; Sally League) and Columbia Blowfish (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League), Capital City Stadium has had a long and unique history. It was originally built by Hall of Famer and Pittsburgh Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss in 1927, and went on to host numerous teams over its decades of use. The last affiliated minor league franchise to play there was the Mets/Bombers, who called the ballpark home from 1983-2004 before relocating to Greenville, SC and they were followed by the Blowfish from 2006-2014.
As Capital City Stadium has sat unused over the last several years, its site has been targeted for redevelopment that would involve demolishing the ballpark. New York-based Weddle Real Estate Investments is now leading the redevelopment effort, proposing a plan that calls for tearing the ballpark down to make way for new residential and retail space. Plans for redevelopment are not final, as Weddle has until mid-January 2020 to complete its purchase of the site, but as part of an agreement with the city, the company will provide $60,000 in order for Historic Columbia to complete a documentary on the ballpark and open it for a final tour. More from The State:
“It’s a historic site and Historic Columbia always likes to document buildings that are about to be torn down with pictures and measurements,” said [Howard] Duvall, an at-large council member. “So they asked us to do that.”
The stadium’s demolition was imminent, but now developers have asked the city to postpone it so they can purchase it whole and leverage the state’s abandoned building tax credit. The contract for purchase has been extended to Jan. 15, 2020.
Bill Shanahan, owner of the Columbia-turned-Lexington County Blowfish Coastal Plain League baseball team, said while he hates to see the old stadium go, he’s glad that its history will be documented.
“It’s a wonderful idea,” said Shanahan, who also served as the general manager of the Capital City Bombers, a Class A minor league affiliate of the New York Mets, in the 1990s. . “I’m thankful to hear this could very well happen. There’s a lot of history here. Tremendous history.”
Atlanta-based Bright-Myers had a contract on the site, but has transferred it to Weddle. Weddle’s current vision for the site calls for a mix of residences and retail, along with a greenway and the restoration of a creek that runs under the ballpark.
Plenty of notable players passed through Capital City Stadium over its history. Frank Robinson suited up for the Columbia Reds in 1954 and 1955, while Hank Aaron appeared at Capital City Stadium in 1953 as a member of the Jacksonville Braves in what would be in his final minor league game. In the ballpark’s later years of hosting affiliated baseball, Jose Reyes and David Wright were among the future stars that suited up for the Bombers. Capital City Stadium is currently on our Endangered Ballparks list.
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