Columbia’s ballpark will have ‘Spirit’

Originally posted at: http://www.columbiabusinessreport.com/news/53184-columbia-rsquo-s-ballpark-will-have-lsquo-spirit-rsquo

BY STAFF REPORT
colanews@scbiznews.com

COLUMBIA, SC

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The City of Columbia and Columbia Professional Baseball, announced Wednesday that Spirit Communications will hold the rights to name the new, multi-use sports and entertainment venue at Columbia Common in downtown Columbia.

The venue will be known as Spirit Communications Park, for the home-grown, Columbia-based telecommunications provider. The company’s headquarters is on Bull Street, just blocks from the Columbia Common development.

Spirit is one of the 25 largest privately held firms in the state of South Carolina; it was formed in 1984 by the 11 independent telephone companies and cooperatives in South Carolina.

“Spirit Communications is delighted to make this investment in what we are sure will be one of the most important and transformative projects our home town of Columbia has seen,” said Bob Keane, president and CEO of Spirit Communications. “Spirit and our owner companies have been a part of many big things here in South Carolina – assuring that modern technology is available to grow businesses throughout our state as well as bringing that technology to underserved rural areas and schools. Supporting Columbia Common and our new hometown team is a natural fit.”

“Spirit Communications is a successful, home-grown Columbia business that, along with its member companies, has done so much for South Carolina,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “They are helping position Columbia as a true center of global innovation and I can’t think of a better partner for our new community venue.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with a cutting edge company like Spirit Communications,” said Jason Freier, CEO, Hardball Capital. “Spirit is a great local company with a tremendous backstory. Spirit is a leader in innovation, collaboration, and customer service and has been a great community partner. Our goal is for this park and professional baseball in Columbia to be recognized the same way.”

Freier said he expects to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking in January, but he added that initial site preparation could begin later this month.

Mayor Benjamin said the ballpark could be built for the previously announced goal of $35 million, but he cautioned that he aims to see that it a world-class facility, implying that the cost could exceed $35 million.

Freier said the part will be a public venue 365 days a year, with concerts and other public events added to the baseball schedule. He said the park will even be open to the public when there are no scheduled events, so that residents of Columbia can enjoy the park anytime.