Minor league baseball team owner announces naming contest for future Columbia squad

Minor league baseball in Columbia might be a year and a half away, but the future team’s owner is reaching out to the community to add local flavor. Hardball Capital CEO Jason Freier on Monday announced a contest for residents to name the team.

Hardball Capital CEO Jason Freier announces the "Name Our Team" contest (photo by Kelly Petty).

Hardball Capital CEO Jason Freier announces the “Name Our Team” contest. (photo by Kelly Petty)

“For us it’s extremely important to have the community included in the process,” Freier said. “We want to make sure the name is for and by the community and something the community agrees on.”

The “Name Our Team” contest is open to any resident in the community. Suggestions are being accepted through the team’s new website, ColumbiaProBall.com. Submissions should include the name, an explanation and a logo or graphic representation.

Names for the contest will be accepted until Oct. 15. Updates on the naming contest can be found on Twitter using the hashtag #NameOurTeam. The name, team colors and mascot will be revealed in the spring of 2015.

The contest winner will get to throw out the first pitch at the opening night game in April 2016. They also will receive a prize pack with a team cap and jersey, as well as tickets to opening night.

“Through this process, we will come to better understand what makes Columbia so special and unique,” said Abby Naas, the team’s vice president of Marketing and Public Relations.  “We know from our experience re-branding our team in Fort Wayne that this can really be an opportunity to build an identity that the community can rally around.  The TinCaps brand is beloved in Fort Wayne and recognized nationally as one of the great monikers in Minor League Baseball.  We will work hard to achieve the same results in Columbia.”

The new website for Columbia's minor league baseball team (photo provided).

The new website for Columbia’s minor league baseball team (photo provided).

Freier said he wants to find a name that embodies the spirit of Columbia, its history and culture. His team is looking specifically for a name that is local, identifiable, unique and fun.

About 10 people from Freier’s team will be in town early next week to hold focus groups, and community meetings and to speak with individuals who have knowledge of the city’s history.

Freier said the contest should generate a lot of names similar to what happened with his team in Fort Wayne. That team received 2,500 suggestions before being named the TinCaps.

“This is the name we’re gonna live with for the next 30 years, so we want to get it right,” he said.

Freier also unveiled the team’s website. It will consist of news and events, a blog offering updates on the naming contest, as well as a section for Freier and his team to answer any questions. The website also includes a frequently asked questions page and a section where people can find out how to score season tickets and suites and to learn about community partnership opportunities.

Freier said he would not reveal any details of which minor league team would be moved to Columbia and said he plans to hold off on making the announcement until next spring.

Freier said he still is monitoring developments with the Savannah City Council and his other team, the Sand Gnats. The city issued a feasibility to study to look at the impact of fulfilling Hardball Capital’s request to build a multi-purpose venue to replace their old stadium for the team.

Freier said the results of the study should be revealed to council members later this week. He said his commitment is to have a team in Savannah starting its season in 2015 and another in Columbia starting 2016.

“We’ve said all along that we would love to have teams in both Columbia and Savannah,” Freier said.

The city of Columbia issued a proposal request in August for an at-risk construction manager to lead the building of the stadium in the Bull Street development known as Columbia Commons.

Once a construction manager is selected, Freier said on-site work should begin about 45 days later.

Updates on the team and naming contest can be found at the Twitter handle @ColumbiaProBall, on Facebook and at the team’s website.

Categories: Local News