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A Day At The New (Government) Ballpark




|| By WILL FOLKS || You wouldn’t think attending “Faith and Family Night” at a government subsidized baseball stadium would be my cup of tea, would you?

It isn’t … certainly not at Spirit Communications Park, home of the Columbia Fireflies of the South Atlantic League.

This, of course, is the over-budget, taxpayer-funded baseball stadium that’s been heralded as the cornerstone of the Bull Street redevelopment – a project this website (and the City of Columbia, S.C.’s accountants) adamantly opposed.

Will Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin‘s gamble work?  Especially now with the economy headed back into recessionary territory?

Don’t bet on it … although if you are a taxpayer living in Columbia, S.C., I guess it’s a little too late for that.

Still, I’m going – putting my ideological indignation aside (and depriving my bank account of untold riches) in an effort to make sure my kids don’t hate me when they’re grown-ups.

Seriously, after today the old “You never took me to a baseball game, Dad!” complaint will be officially off the table.

Beyond that, I’m genuinely curious.

I’m curious how many people will attend – and what sort of people they will be (i.e. how drunk do they get).  I’m curious what the atmosphere will be like: Will Owl City’s “Fireflies” be played from the public address system?  Will there be mascot races around the base paths?  Will anybody start a fight and get thrown out?  Will my inner Terence Mann be channeled?

I’m curious how much everything costs: Beer?  Hot dogs?  Sodas?  Boiled peanuts?

Times are tight.  Every penny matters.

Speaking of: I’m curious about the much-discussed status of the broader Bull Street redevelopment.  In what sort of shape is the rest of this heavily-subsidized complex?  Remember, Benjamin and his cronies on Columbia city council skimped on water and sewer services for years to build this thing … giving taxpayers the old “if you build it, they will come” line from Field of Dreams.

I’ve heard the ballpark is beautiful but the surrounding areas look a lot like Chernobyl, but it will be interesting to see for myself.

And finally, as a fantasy baseball junkie I’m curious to see what sort of prospects the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants are putting on the field at the single-A level (the Fireflies feed into the Mets’ system, while the Augusta GreenJackets – their opponent on this particular night – feed into the Giants’ system).

Seriously … it’s never to early to start prepping for next year’s fantasy baseball draft.

Anyway, stay tuned … I look forward to sharing my thoughts from the new, government-subsidized ballpark.