Odom: Debate about bringing minor league baseball back to Columbia is bigger than baseball

January 26, 2014 

— Almost every article, opinion and argument for or against constructing a new multi-use venue to bring minor league baseball back to Columbia has centered on the monetary implications. I understand the importance of closely examining and evaluating the financial costs, benefits and consequences in order to make the best-informed decision. However, I think it’s also important to consider the positive impact a minor league team and ballpark can have on our children, our families, our neighborhoods, our businesses and our region.

This ballpark can be a convenient, affordable family entertainment option that is much more inclusive than our existing choices. Tickets and concessions will be reasonably priced and much more feasible for a budget-conscious family. The games will fill the void in Columbia’s evening entertainment options that is both convenient and appropriate for families. This is why the city must participate financially — to create an outlet that everyone in our community can enjoy and benefit from.

The ballpark will be open 365 days a year and can host weddings, business functions, concerts, community events, charitable events and activities and events for our youth and seniors. When not in use, it can function as a public park ideal for families.

The 192 acres that Hughes Development is developing will transform our city. As a longtime resident of North Columbia, I’m especially interested in its impact on our area, given our close proximity. The higher the quality and more vibrant the development, the more we will benefit. This is our chance to enhance the vitality of our neighborhood and develop our own unique identity.

But we expect more than that. We expect new contracts and clients for our entrepreneurs and small businesses. We expect job opportunities. We expect more families and young professionals to move into our neighborhood so they live near the great amenities that North Columbia has to offer.

This conversation is not just about baseball. It is about affordable family entertainment, neighborhood engagement, jobs, economic development and making our city more attractive to residents and newcomers alike. The discussion about building a minor league baseball facility is ultimately a discussion about the future of Columbia.

Sabrina Odom

Columbia

Editor’s Note: Check back Monday for more letters on the baseball park, in our Monday Forum.

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