Bull street development could include baseball stadium

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - It's still in the pre-game warmup stages, but it's looking more and more like professional baseball will return to Columbia in the future.

On Tuesday, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin along with other city and business leaders, announced a development agreement for the former Department of Mental Health property along Bull Street. Part of that agreement could include a ballpark.

Under the agreement with Greenville-area developer Bob Hughes, the city will commit more than $31 million for infrastructure improvements for development on the multi-phase Bull Street project. The plan which is expected to include residential, commercial and the possible baseball stadium, could take up to 20 years to complete on the 181-acre tract of undeveloped land.

The stadium would host minor league baseball, concerts and other events.

"I firmly believe that you can't be a great American city without America's greatest pasttime," said Benjamin. "We've seen the power of collegiate baseball and the incredible decade the Gamecocks have had on not only the psyche of this city, but also the economic development of this city. I believe that we can take it to even another level with minor league baseball here."

Pro baseball hasn't been part of Columbia in almost a decade. The Capital City Bombers moved to Greenville in 2005 and a new downtown ballpark was built for the now single-A affilliate of the Boston Red Sox. The team is now known as the Greenville Drive.

Columbia officials have had discussions with the Carolina League and South Atlantic, or Sally League, of minor-league baseball. The Bombers were once a member of the South Atlantic League.