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Spirit Communications Park, which opens with a home game on April 14, 2016, will mark the return of professional baseball to Columbia’s Midlands region for the first time in more than a decade. It will be the home for the State’s only professional sports team; the Columbia Fireflies (formerly the Savannah Sand Gnats).

The ballpark will be about so much more than just baseball. It will be a multi-use outdoor entertainment venue, hosting concerts, sporting events and community and charitable functions. It will be a public park — with the concourse and children’s play area open dawn until dusk when an event is not in progress. And it will be an indoor event space, hosting private meetings, parties and gatherings.

Spirit Communications Park is a partnership between the City of Columbia and Hardball Capital, which is the owner/operator of multiple successful Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams. The ballpark it designed, built and operates in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was twice named the #1 MiLB ballpark experience in the country by Stadium Journey magazine and has received numerous other awards and accolades.

The City of Columbia approved a partnership to build Spirit Communications Park in April of 2014. Populous, the leading ballpark architect in the world (designer of 15 of the 30 current Major League ballparks, as well as 65 Minor League and Spring Training facilities) is responsible for the design of the facility, which broke ground in late 2014.

Spirit Communications, a local telecommunications company, bought the naming rights to the new venue.

The USD$37m* Spirit Communications Park has been designed to appeal to all demographics and be enjoyed by attendees seeking many different experiences. For the avid baseball fan, seats will be as close as 45ft from home plate — even closer than the pitcher! Even the most distant seats will be closer than those costing a hundred dollars or more at other major sporting events.

On opening next month, the ballpark will offer a capacity of approximately 9,000 for baseball and 15,000 for concerts. It will feature amenities such as luxury suites, club seats, private areas for corporate, church and community outings, social areas for young professionals and college students, and grass berm seating and a play area for families with children.

Spirit Communications Park, and the activity and interest it creates, will also be the centrepiece and catalyst for Bull Street Common, a mixed-use development that will transform the former State Mental Hospital campus hat has been out of use for well over a decade. Bull Street Common will be the new gateway to downtown Columbia. Its rich history and architectural beauty make it the perfect place to blend historic charm, urban living and great outdoor space. Plans include over 400,000sqft of high-end retail and dining, Class A office space, top-notch hotels and residential options ranging from single-family homes to condominiums to apartments.

*USD$30m is coming from public funds.

Widest videoboard in minor league baseball for Charlotte

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As BB&T Ballpark continues to take shape, the Charlotte Knights have revealed plans to install the widest videoboard in minor league baseball, partnering with Toshiba Managed Business Services and Total Sports Entertainment (TSE). Opening Day at BB&T Ballpark is set for Friday, 11 April 2014.

The BB&T Ballpark video project will feature a 30-by-82 foot HD videoboard in left-center field, consisting of nearly three million LED lamps. The ballpark will also have a 14-by-35 foot LED exterior video display, an 8-by-120 foot LED ribbon board display along the right field wall, two 3-by 32 1⁄2 foot fascia ribbon LED displays along the upper level façade on both sides of the stadium, and an LED video ribbon board measuring 2 1⁄2- by 42 3⁄4 feet within BB&T Ballpark’s five-section ticket plaza. Charlotte Knights Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Dan Rajkowski, said:

This videoboard will provide fans with a one-of-a-kind experience at BB&T Ballpark. The audio-visual aspect of our new ballpark was a clear priority for us as it relates to providing the best experience possible for our fans. Toshiba and TSE clearly understood our vision while providing an impressive digital signage implementation to allow our fans to better enjoy their time at BB&T Ballpark.

Toshiba is also installing LCD menu boards within the BB&T Ballpark concession stands, as well as televisions throughout the concourses, the clubhouses, offices, team store, ballpark suites and suite level areas.