Columbia to pay for own study on proposed baseball stadium

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.

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. Earlier this year, the chamber paid for a 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.

The city-funded feasibility study would examine whether a stadium would make financial sense, examine construction and maintenance costs, attract enough visitors to justify the expense and add to Columbia’s quality.

City manager Teresa Wilson said she’s plans to submit a recommendation on which firm to hire at council’s Dec. 10 meeting.

Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine argued that a study paid by the chamber would not be credible. She preferred the city pickup 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.