Concerns Raised Over Baseball Stadium Funding

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- The South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association sent a letter to Mayor Steve Benjamin and City Council to raise concerns about funding for the Bull Street development.

"We are really not against the baseball stadium per say, but we would like to have some cost benefit analysis done," said Bobby Williams, President of the Columbia Restaurant Association.

Williams is worried funding will be taken from local arts groups.

"This is the biggest deal probably made in the city of Columbia. They [city council] want to get it done so fast, it scares me," said Williams.

City council gave the first approval to fund the more than $30 million project with a 4-3 vote earlier this month. Councilman Cameron Runyan voted for the project, but says council needs to do a better job with leadership and working together.

"Let's slow down on baseball, we need to give this some more time. We have not been doing a good job of that and I think that is where we are headed," said Runyan.

In the letter to council, Williams is asking for a continued commitment to funding of arts and cultural organizations. He is concerned some of the hospitality tax money certain groups depend on will be taken away and given to the ball park development.

Greenville developer Bob Hughes shared the initial development plans and Runyan is hopeful the project can be built and bring in money for the city.

"Based on what has been shared with council behind closed doors, and what has been shared by Mr. Hughes and the pipeline of prospects, we certainly see the potential for some very rapid tax growth in there," said Runyan.

Williams Disagrees saying, "Personally I just don't see it. I don't see that area turning into an entertainment venue."


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