Columbia Leaders Optimistic About Bull Street Stadium

Durham, SC (WLTX) – City leaders traveled to Durham, North Carolina a city who some say struck gold in the Minor League Baseball arena.

Those same city leaders hope to do the same thing here in the Midlands.

The Bull Street stadium is already a done deal, now residents will have to play the waiting game to see if the investment will pay off.

"Nothing happens overnight and I think one thing starts another," said Durham Mayor Bill Bell.

If you stop by downtown Durham it's not hard to tell that the city is anchored by the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

But this wasn't the case 20 years ago.

Just like the Bull Street property, downtown Durham was filled with abandoned buildings.

Mayor Bell says it was so dead that the local SWAT team used some of the property for target practice.

"To really appreciate it you should have been here 10 or 12 years ago to see the type of changes that happened here. It is no doubt that if it were not for the ball park we would not have had the level of development as fast as we had it."

Now the stadium and surrounding businesses has brought the city more than one billion dollars in revenue.

Something that Mayor Steve Benjamin hopes to do in Columbia.

"I firmly believe that the people of Columbia deserve the same. We are a very special place with a special future but that future does not happen by chance; you have to create that future," said Mayor Benjamin.

The baseball stadium started with three building surrounding it and now there is a performing arts center, basketball courts, restaurants and much more.

"It really can be a transformative project and I think its hard for people to imagine until they can see it. So the purpose of this trip was to bring people to Columbia to see what could happen," said Jason Freier.

The city funded a bus to take close to 30 community leaders.

Jason Freier the owner of the team that will come to Columbia says it will only be a success if its a multi-use venue.

"At the end of the day we want is to get as many people through the facility as possible and that's not just for baseball."

Freier says baseball will come to Columbia in 2016.


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