Profile: Jason Freier, the man who wants to bring pro baseball back to Columbia
Jason Freier wants to invest millions of dollars and form a partnership with the city of Columbia to bring a minor league baseball team back to the city, but he says the key is making sure the stadium is used for a lot more than just baseball.
Freier is not new to the minor league baseball business. As chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Hardball Capital, he owns teams in Savannah, Salem, Va. and Fort Wayne, Ind. Freier, a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, has done his homework regarding Columbia.
“Demographically, Columbia is very appealing. It’s one of the largest markets in the country without any professional sports,” Freier said. “At the same time, what got us really interested was the Bull Street development.”
Freier said he has visited Columbia many times over the past year and said he does not take such interest in a city by accident. He and his firm have a list of criteria for any place in which they might invest.
“We want to find a place where baseball can be successful,” he said. “Where there’s a passion for baseball, but also where there’s an opportunity for a win-win, where baseball can thrive but also do something to help out an area of the city.”
“Off the success we’ve had in Fort Wayne, we’ve been approached by several markets asking if we’d bring a team there, and we’ve mostly had to say no because they didn’t check all the boxes we had,” Freier said.
Freier practiced law after graduating from Yale. He worked at a Washington, D.C.-based firm at which current Boston Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino was a partner. He focused on sports law and consulted for owners and prospective owners of teams in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.
He founded Hardball Capital in 2005, with 20 investors, and is also a Managing Director for BlueArc Capital Management, an investment firm focusing on private equity and hedge fund strategies.