On Thursday, April 14, the city of Columbia welcomed the new Single-A baseball team, The Columbia Fireflies, to the brand new Spirit Communications Park in downtown Columbia.
On Thursday, April 14, the city of Columbia welcomed the new Single-A baseball team, The Columbia Fireflies, to the brand new Spirit Communications Park in downtown Columbia. The game marked the return of professional baseball to the city of Columbia for the first time since 2004, when the Capital City Bombers departed for Greenville, South Carolina to become the Greenville Drive.
The Fireflies are one of two single-A affiliates of the New York Mets. The team was previously located in Savannah, Georgia, where they played as the Savannah Sand Gnats.
Spirit Communications Park is located on Bull Street in downtown Columbia. The stadium is the initial step in the renovation of that area. For years, tourists visiting Columbia were greeted by the remains of the abandoned mental hospital, but now they can expect to see a magnificent stadium, along with other shops and businesses.
“This project and this creation of the Bull Street foundation and the Bull Street project and this ballpark itself is going to be a huge stepping stone in revitalizing this city,” assistant director of media relations Brendan Glasheen said.
The stadium seats 7,000 people, but with standing room seating it can hold 10,000. Upon entering the stadium, guests are greeted by numerous concession stands, a merchandise store, and a tremendous baseball field.
“The first thing I noticed was the massive amount of people, and the field was eye catching,” junior Michael Templeton said.
Going along with the baseball environment, Spirit Communications Park also offers more unique experiences. The park is equipped with 16 luxury suites, each with their own private seating area. There is also a lounge that contains couches, tables, a bar, and a perfect viewing area of the game that sits in between the suite areas. For general admission spectators, there is a play area for little kids, numerous bars for adults, and games in between innings to get the fans involved.
The park does not look to hold only baseball games, as the field is capable of hosting soccer and football games. Apart from sports, the plan is to hold concerts, weddings, and other social gatherings at the park as well.
The games are affordable, as a general admission seat will only cost $12. During the summer months when collegiate sporting events are not in season, families can flock to Spirit Communications Park to catch some minor league baseball.
While there a many good factors the stadium brings, opening night came with a few problems. Due to construction in the area not being completed, parking is limited. Many spectators found themselves walking long distances from their cars to the stadium. Traffic was also an issue, as there is only one traffic light controlling all of the baseball parking. These issues will be fixed as construction wraps up and problems are worked out.
“I think the stadium needs to improve the traffic problems, and they also need to get more lighting in the parking lot,” Michael said.
Overall, the park is a great contribution to the city of Columbia, not only being visually attractive, but helping others as well. The team created a plethora of jobs, and revenue from tickets, concessions, and merchandise will go a long way for the state economy. If you don’t have plans on a warm summer night, make sure you check out a Columbia Fireflies game at Spirit Communications Park.
Story by Trey Martin, Sam Aaron, Josh German
Photo by Trey Martin