Columbia Commons baseball stadium to be named Spirit Communications Park
Columbia’s future minor league baseball stadium finally has a name. Baseball officials and civic leaders announced Wednesday that the multi-use venue in the Columbia Commons development on Bull Street will be named Spirit Communications Park.
“Spirit Communications is a successful, home-grown Columbia business, along with its member companies, has done so much for all of South Carolina,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “They are helping position our city and our region as a true center of global innovation. I can’t think of a better partner for our new community venue.”
The 10-year deal is valued at $3.65 million. The additional five-year option increases the value to $5.7 million.
Spirit Communications is a Columbia-based telecommunications business that serves businesses, healthcare and government. The company has more than 30 years of experience and was established through the consolidation of several telephone and communications companies in South Carolina.
“This unique naming rights opportunity will allow us the ability to showcase our technology and advancements in the ballpark as well as the Columbia Commons in total,” said Robert Keane, president and CEO of Spirit Communications.
Freier said several companies issued inquiries for the naming rights to the stadium but said his team settled on Spirit Communications for its location in the city and the services it offers.
“It really fit with our mission that we want to be a community venue. They are a great community company, born and grown here in South Carolina, headquartered four blocks away from the ballpark,” Freier said. “It was the right story and the right fit.”
Spirit Communications will provide advanced telecommunications technology to wire the stadium, Freier said. A new website that will reflect the stadium’s new name also will be unveiled in the future.
According to the venue license agreement, the city of Columbia and Freier’s management firm Hardball Capital, each get 50 percent of net naming rights revenue up to $350,000. If the revenue exceeds $350,000, the city gets 100 percent of net naming rights revenue.
Those funds will go into the City Maintenance and Improvement Fund for long term maintenance and capital improvements to the stadium.
Freier said the city could receive tax revenues from various sources including sales, payroll and admissions.
The stadium is expected to celebrate its groundbreaking in January with an expected opening in April 2016. Freier said the budget for the stadium still is being worked out. The desire for a state-of-the-art baseball stadium that includes upgraded amenities and technology could shift priorities for the design of the property.
A Brailsford & Dunlavey study released earlier this year stated the stadium could cost close to $42 million.
When asked whether the stadium still could be built at the $35 million quote that Freier and Benjamin have promoted, Freier said his team would work to keep overage costs to a minimum at the risk of forgoing items on the ballpark wish list.
“You say to yourself, ‘Hey, to get that out I have to get rid of this,’” he said. “There’s a point at which that makes sense and a point at which that doesn’t. So we’re going to get very close on the budget,” he said.