January 9, 2015

Our time is now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015, will be remembered as a historic day in Columbia, as city, county, and business leaders took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Spirit Communications Park on the Bull Street Common campus.

While existing roads and powerlines make it hard to envision now, the location, between Wilson and Williams Drive, will be transformed in the next 16 months into an 8,500 seat multi-use venue.

The ceremony was laid out as a baseball diamond. As Mayor Steve Benjamin took the podium to address the crowd, he did so standing behind a home plate. The first and third base lines trailed off in either direction. However, according to Benjamin, Tuesday was not just about baseball.

“It’s about embracing a vision that says ‘ We, the people of Columbia, can do so much more than what is expected of us.’ It’s about stepping forward with a dose of hubris and humility to say ‘We are Columbia,’ a worldclass city, a city of progress, and a city of ideas. We are Columbia, a city of vision and hope. We are Columbia, and our time is now.”

Aerial view of Spirit Communications Park Tuesday’s ceremony marks the second major announcement for the multi-use venue. In December, Spirit Communications was awarded naming rights.

Jason Frier, chairman and CEO of Hardball Capital, announced there would be more announcements in the coming months, including how fans can sign up for season tickets. He hopes to announce the team name and affiliation in the spring.

Among those in attendance for the ceremony were Richland County Council members Aaron Bishop and Jim Manning along with Bob Hughes, president of Hughes Development, and Bob Keane, president and CEO of Spirit Communications.

Richland County Councilmen Aaron Bishop and Jim Manning along with Columbia City Councilman Sam Davis and Mayor Steve Benjamin take part in the groundbreaking ceremony for Spirit Communication Park. Keane says being awarded the naming rights to the multi-use venue is the culmination of two years of work for Spirit Communications. Most of that time was spent monitoring the city’s process of the Bull Street project. Once Keane learned the venue wouldn’t be solely used for baseball, he saw it as a good opportunity.

Hughes also addressed those in attendance. “This is a great day for our project. We’re finally sticking a shovel in the ground,” Hughes said. “There have been a lot of questions. Would we do this? Would this happen? I think today is the last day anybody can ask any of those questions."

He announced an 80-car garage would be built underground before any visible construction could be done on the multi-use venue.

“This is about a baseball team in a small sense; it’s about Columbia as a team in the much larger sense. And Columbia has come together as a team to produce this,” Hughes said.

For updates on the project, visit or Spiritcommunicationspark. co m, or follow on Twitter 

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