Spirit Communications Park, Designed by Populous, Breaks Ground

January 7, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Professional baseball’s return to Columbia took another major step forward yesterday morning. Mayor Steve Benjamin, along with Jason Freier (CEO, Hardball Capital), Bob Hughes (President, Hughes Development), Bob Keane (President and CEO, Spirit Communications), and Greg Hughes (President, Contract Construction, Inc. and Project Manager for CCEB Venue Partners) and other City, State and company officials ceremonially broke ground on Spirit Communications Park at Columbia Common in Downtown Columbia.

The state-of-the-art multi-use sports and entertainment venue will be home to an affiliated professional Minor League Baseball team beginning in April, 2016.

“This is a milestone day for our entire city,” Mayor Benjamin said. “It’s taken hard work by many to make this possible, and more hard work is still in store, but our vision for a more vibrant Columbia is coming closer and closer to fruition. The countdown is now on to Opening Day in 2016.”

The team will begin taking reservations for ticket packages on February 2, 2015.  Information and pricing will be available online at ColumbiaProBaseball.com and SpiritCommunicationsPark.com on January 27, 2015.

“It’s exciting to think about how Spirit Communications Park will add to what is already one of the Southeast’s great cities,” said Freier, who was at a similar groundbreaking for Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 2007. Parkview Field has since been named the “No. 1 Ballpark Experience” in Minor League Baseball in three of the past four years.

Spirit Communications Park will anchor development at Columbia Common, the new gateway to Downtown Columbia. The 181-acre Columbia Common, under the guidance of master developer Hughes Development, is primed to become the ultimate live-work-play community in the region.

“We’ve seen this kind of development centered around a ballpark work throughout the country, including not so far away from Columbia,” said Bob Hughes, who has developed in the area around Fluor Field in Greenville’s West End. “Folks in Columbia are in for a treat with Spirit Communications Park.”

More than 900 jobs are expected to be created during the construction of the ballpark. Once complete, Columbia’s professional baseball team will bring on approximately 35 full-time and 550 part-time employees.

Construction of Spirit Communications Park is being managed by CCEB Venue Partners, a joint venture among Contract Construction, Construction Dynamics, and EnviroAg Sciences — all local firms — as well as Barton Mallow Construction, national ballpark experts.

“Contract Construction is proud to be part of the CCEB Venue team,” said Greg Hughes. “Our focus will be to involve local companies in the construction of THEIR venue s on Opening Day we will have a facility built FOR the City of Columbia, BY the City of Columbia.”

Spirit Communications Park has been designed by Populous. The world’s premier venue architectural firm also has designed 20 of Major League Baseball’s 30 ballparks, in addition to the University of South Carolina Baseball Stadium.

One aspect that will make Spirit Communications Park unique from so many others around the country is that it will play host to far more than just baseball. The facility will serve as a public gathering place for hundreds of indoor and outdoor non-baseball events each year. From concerts to community events, Spirit Communications Park will welcome thousands. The park will host approximately 8,000 fans for baseball games and 14,000 for concerts.

“Spirit Communications is excited to have our name on this fantastic, multi-use venue,” said Keane. “People from all across the Midlands will make memories at this park that will last a lifetime.”

Said Benjamin: “Today we break ground; In April of 2016, we’ll play ball.”




About the City of Columbia

Founded by the General Assembly in 1786, Columbia was South Carolina’s first planned city and among the first planned cities in the nation. Columbia is the largest city in South Carolina with a population of 129,276 (2010 U.S. Census) and a metro workforce of over 375,000 (SC Department of Employment and Workforce) and serves as state capital while hosting multiple colleges and universities including the state’s flagship Carnegie Research 1 facility the University of South Carolina. Columbia is also home to the nationally renowned Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, the largest children’s museum in the Southeast Edventure and the largest U.S. Army training facility in the world at Fort Jackson.

The City of Columbia works closely with neighborhood organizations to increase the lines of communications between the community and City Hall and, with approximately 2200 employees on staff, is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to all of our citizens.

About Columbia Professional Baseball

Columbia Professional Baseball is returning professional baseball to Columbia for the first time in a decade.  It is partnering with the City of Columbia and Hughes Development to construct a multi-use outdoor venue at the center of the Columbia Common development.  Columbia Professional Baseball is owned by Hardball Capital, the owner of the Fort Wayne TinCaps of the Midwest League and the Savannah Sand Gnats of the South Atlantic League.  For more information visit www.ColumbiaProBall.com or www.SpiritCommunicationsPark.com.

About Hughes Development Corporation

Hughes Development Corporation is a 76-year old, family owned real estate development firm based in Greenville, SC. It has developed projects across the southeast, from Alabama to Virginia, in virtually all types of real estate. Over the last 15 years, Hughes Development has refined its focus to mixed-use, urban developments, where its expertise and experience can be used to transform districts and make a lasting impact. Hughes Development continues its tradition of broad development expertise, long-term ownership of its projects, and a commitment to adding value to local communities.

About Spirit Communications

Headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, Spirit Communications provides voice, data, Internet, and fiber optic solutions, along with a full suite of Cloud services to commercial businesses and government agencies across the Southeast. The company’s ownership group includes Chesnee Communications, Comporium, Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Hargray Telephone Company, Home Telephone Company, Horry Telephone cooperative, Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative, Piedmont Rural Telephone Cooperative, Sandhill Telephone Cooperative, TruVista Communications and West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative. Spirit’s mission is to enable customers to transform their operations through fast, stable, and secure offerings that flex with business demand. Ranked among the top 25 privately held firms in South Carolina, Spirit serves thousands of customers in over 150 service locations throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. For more information, visit www.spiritcom.com.

About CCEB Venue Partners

CCEB Venue Partners is a joint venture team consisting of several companies, including Detroit’s Barton Malow Co., along with local companies such as Contract Construction, Inc., Construction Dynamics, Inc. and ENVIRO Ag Science.

Barton Malow Co. is no stranger to stadium construction, having built Clipper Magazine Stadium, a 6,000-seat baseball park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and worked on the renovation of the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium in California.

Barton Malow also built BB&T Park, which is the new home of the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball team.

Meanwhile, Contract Construction, Inc. is the company that built the University of South Carolina’s Carolina Stadium. Contract Construction is the managing partner on team.





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