The city of Columbia will spend $47,000 to hire a firm to study whether it’s practical to build a baseball stadium and where to place it rather than allow the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce to pay for it.
City Council on Tuesday approved spending the money to advertise for companies to submit bids to do the study. Council decided not to stipulate that a minor league stadium should be on the Bull Street property, which is to be developed under a contract with Greenville’s Hughes Development Corp. A potential baseball stadium has been included in the development plans for that property.
City staffers had been in talks with Brailsford & Dunlavey, based in Detroit, for an analysis that the chamber offered to finance. Chamber leaders have been in the forefront of advocates for the city to sign a deal with the Hughes company and for a baseball stadium to be built there.
Earlier this year, the chamber paid for an economic impact analysis that projects 11,000 permanent jobs and $1.2 billion in spinoff effects once the neighborhood is built in about 20 years.
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The city-funded feasibility study would examine:
• Whether a stadium would make financial sense
• Construction and maintenance costs
Whether it would attract enough visitors to justify the expense
• And whether it would add to Columbia’s quality of life.
City manager Teresa Wilson said she plans to submit a recommendation on which firm to hire at council’s Dec. 10 meeting.
Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine argued that a study funded by the chamber would not be credible. She preferred the city pick up the tab to be more certain that the recommendations would be objective.
Councilwoman Leona Plaugh, who has pushed for a feasibility analysis, said private money should pay for at least part of the cost of a study as well as the stadium.
Council approved the change of direction on paying for the study on a 5-2 vote, with Plaugh and Councilman Moe Baddourah voting no.