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Fireflies game - Cola Daily file photo.

The Columbia Fireflies announced Wednesday that the team has been invited to join the newly configured Minor League Baseball as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The initial term of the offered affiliation is ten years, assuring a long-standing relationship that will extend through at least the 2030 season.

In a release, Fireflies representatives wrote, "the Fireflies are pleased to have received this invitation and look forward to reviewing the complete terms and conditions of the new license that will be offered by Major League Baseball."

“There has been a lot of anticipation regarding the restructuring of Minor League Baseball,” said Fireflies president, John Katz. “We’re excited that the Fireflies have been invited to join. We look forward to the details being worked out and giving fans in Columbia an opportunity to enjoy top-quality professional baseball for years to come.”

The Fireflies were chosen as one of the 120 teams to continue to have a direct affiliation with a Major League partner moving forward. “The quality of Segra Park—named “Ballpark of the Decade” for the 2010s—and the tremendous progress at BullStreet have helped secure the invitation for the Fireflies to continue in affiliated Minor League Baseball for years to come,” said Fireflies’ managing owner, Jason Freier. “We want to thank Mayor Steve Benjamin, the City Council and the City Manager and staff for their vision and partnership.”

The Royals are slated to become the second Major League team to be associated with the Fireflies. The New York Mets had been affiliated with the Minor League Baseball team in Columbia since 1983 as the Columbia Mets (1983-1992), the Capital City Bombers (1993-2004) and the Fireflies (2016-2020), spending more than 25 seasons sending players to the South Carolina’s Capital.

”The Royals have one of the top farm systems in all of baseball,” said Katz. “Their coaches and players that have come to Segra Park as visitors have been first class, and we’re looking forward to getting them into the home dugout.”

As planning for 2021 continues, the Fireflies will continue to monitor Richland County and statewide COVID-19 related projected protocols, requirements, and recommendations for the spring and summer months.

“We’ll approach the 2021 season with extreme care and consideration,” Katz said. “Every event at Segra Park will put the health and safety of our fans, guests, staff, and players first. We’re hopeful that between now and Opening Day we’ll see tremendous strides taken towards returning to some level of normalcy. Whatever the situation when it’s time to ‘play ball,’ we’ll be ready as a staff and as a facility.”

Additional information is available on the Fireflies' website.

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