Young: Baseball stadium a key to stemming Columbia’s brain drain

February 9, 2014 

CourtneyYoung

— At a recent Columbia City Council hearing, several young professionals spoke in favor of adding a multi-use facility that includes baseball to Bull Street development. When detractors cautioned against it, they expressed concern about financial obligations in the future.

With due respect, we are the future.

We love Columbia, and we see in the Bull Street development a future of hope and opportunity. Our message: We gladly embrace it because the public-private partnership represents a vision that will transform.

Politicians and business leaders for years have bemoaned the “brain drain” of so many talented young people leaving Columbia, partly because they are seeking an unlimited future in a city that appeared limited in vision. The city grew by chance, not choice, with too many dissenting voices that made planned progress impossible.

You only have to go to Greenville and Charleston to see how business and political leaders form partnerships that work for the betterment of all their citizens.

Happily, the perception of Columbia is slowly changing, with improvements on Main Street and in the Vista.

The Bull Street vision gives us an opportunity to continue that change.

The question before City Council really is not about baseball. It is about a public entertainment park that contractually commits to be open 30 years, providing inexpensive entertainment to hundreds of thousands of families. It gives parents a safe place for their children, businesses a venue to have conferences and all of us a place to enjoy.

This park is not the end game; it is a launching pad for everything that will follow, including high-end retail, an upscale cinema, boutique and conference hotels, business offices, green space and residences of all types.

Some say Columbia can’t afford to do its share in a partnership with the private sector. We say Columbia can’t afford to let the opportunity pass by. For a very small percentage of its budget, Columbia can help create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity and improve the quality of life that will extend to every part of the city and beyond.

We pledge our support to this effort, and support for our elected leaders who share this vision.

Courtney Young

Columbia

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