Columbia Blowfish considering move to Lexington County

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - The Columbia Blowfish may be moving from the capital city to Lexington County.

On Thursday, Blowfish president Bill Shanahan announced he is in early talks with the mayors of Cayce and Lexington about building a multi-use stadium for the team in Lexington County.

Shanahan is hoping to reach a deal on a public/private funded facility that would provide the Blowfish with a home, and host concerts and other sports.

The announcement comes just days after Columbia city council approved the sale of the Capital City Stadium property where the Blowfish are in their 7th season.

There has been baseball at the property since the mid 1940's ranging from minor-league teams to the current collegiate Blowfish team.

"Residents have been able to enjoy some great baseball here," said Shanahan. "But, it's time. It's time for a new facility that will create new memories."

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Shanahan says he has been looking for a new home for the Blowfish since last fall when city leaders gave initial approval to the sale of the stadium property to a developer with ties to Walmart. The sale was approved this week on a 6-1 city council vote, clearing the way for the developer.

Environmental groups and residents have been critical of the decision saying it will worsen flooding and water-quality issues in the nearby Rocky Branch Creek. A $100,000 study commissioned by the city says otherwise, but critics are still skeptical of the findings.

Meanwhile, Shanahan's concern is finding a home for his team.

"This is baseball. But, it's about family," said Shanahan."We're going to be continuing to look at ways to help enhance family entertainment for the Midlands."

It could be a year before crews start working on the Capital City Stadium property while the retail developer works through getting the proper permits for the proposed development project on the roughly 5.6 acre piece of land. While that process moves forward the Blowfish may have another season next summer at the old stadium, but are looking for also looking for a temporary home while rallying support for a new 4,500 seat park with easy access to the interstate.

As the Blowfish search for a permanent home, Columbia officials are looking to bring a different brand of baseball back to Columbia.

"It's our goal and our dream and our vision to have professional baseball return to Columbia. I'm talking single A, double A baseball," said Mayor Steve Benjamin. "We're going to aggressively pursue the possibility of building a new stadium"

While the city of Columbia fields those prospects and the re-development of the Capital City Stadium land, the Blowfish are making sure all the bases are covered.

"We're hoping that this can be a win, win, win for everybody," said Shanahan. "The new development could happen. We could continue to play baseball for one more season here at Capital City park and truly give it the farewell that it deserves and then at the same time be building this new facility."

Plans for multi-use stadiums in the area have failed in the recent past. In the last decade, a group of investors put together plans for a multi-purpose arena that would have been home to minor-league hockey team the Columbia Inferno. The Inferno previously played at the Carolina Coliseum. Plans for their new arena never materialized.

Shanahan scoffed at the notion his plans would suffer the same fate.

"Maybe they don't know the history of Bill Shanahan," he said.