It’s official. Columbia’s first professional baseball team since 2004 will be called the Fireflies.
The name was announced Tuesday at a news conference held by Mayor Steve Benjamin; Jason Freier, CEO of Hardball Capital; John Katz, president of Columbia Professional Baseball; and Carter Clark, CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of The Midlands and others.
The Fireflies will be a Class A affiliate of the New York Mets in the South Atlantic League.
“A great minor league team name should be local, unique and fun,” Freier said. “I feel like we hit on all of those.”
Freier said some of the inspiration for the name came from a story in The State newspaper titled “Synchronized fireflies putting on show at Congaree National Park”.
“The inspiration came from the Photinus frontalis in the nearby Congaree National Park,” he said. “Each spring as the baseball season begins, for a few weeks, hundreds of these unique fireflies light together in synchronization.”
6 out of 2,319 entries submitted in the name-the-team contest suggested “Fireflies”
The unity of the fireflies also symbolizes Columbia being the middle of South Carolina and acting as a meeting point for the state.
Another factor in the decision was that Fireflies is not used by any other major or regional sports team.
In meeting his third criteria, Freier said the name embodied a fun feeling.
“Fireflies are magical creatures and they invoke wholesome and positive associations like time outside or kids playing outside. It’s the kind of feeling we want to create every night a Spirit Communications Park.”
The team colors also draw inspiration from the area. Katz, the team president, said the midnight blue represents the South Carolina sky, the neon-green-yellow represents the fireflies’ glow and the silver represents the wings of a firefly.
The team will have two hats that they will regularly use, one with the primary firefly logo and another with a “C” and “F” joined together to create a flame, a nod to the city’s “Famously Hot” slogan.
On both hats, the white around the logos will glow in the dark, just as fireflies do. According to Paul Lukas, uniform expert and creator of uni-watch.com, the Casper Ghosts minor league team in Colorado also featured a glow-in-the-dark aspect.
A third logo will feature a mason jar that contains the “C” and “F” flame.
Katz said that the uniforms are still being designed, but he said home uniforms will say “Fireflies” on the chest and the road uniforms will say “Columbia.”
The name was chosen from 2,319 entries and although it wasn’t a pure vote for the name, six individuals submitted the name and will be eligible for the prize of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and a special uniform and team cap package.
Freier said that the most popular names submitted were: Heat, Wrens, Capitals, Bulls. He said many of the names submitted were shared by other teams in professional sports and that they wanted to keep it unique.
The $37 million stadium in the Bull Street development will be called Spirit Communications Park and Benjamin saidthe project is on budget and on time.
The team also announced that the first game in the park will be April 16, 2016 and it is taking reservations for season ticket packages at www.columbiafireflies.com starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
SOUTH ATLANTIC TEAMS
The Columbia Fireflies will join the Southern Division of the South Atlantic League next season, replacing the Savannah Sand Gnats.
- Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds
- Greensboro (N.C.) Grasshoppers
- Hagerstown (Md.) Suns
- Hickory (N.C.) Crawdads
- Kannapolis (N.C.) Intimidators
- Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws
- West Virginia Power
- Asheville Tourists
- Augusta GreenJackets
- Charleston RiverDogs
- Greenville Drive
- Lexington (Ky.) Legends
- Rome (Ga.) Braves
- Columbia Fireflies