Sept. 9, 2004
Columbia, S.C. –
Following an extensive review regarding the construction of a new baseball facility, University of South Carolina officials have recommended to its Board of Trustees that the University move forward on the construction of a single use baseball stadium. The new stadium would have up to 6,000 seats, would be located on University-owned land adjacent to the 18,000-seat Colonial Center, and would be the home of the Gamecock baseball team.
Additionally, the University announced that it is willing to consider an optional proposal wherein the stadium design could also include an amphitheater for outdoor entertainment.
According to the University’s announcement, USC would finance the entire $10 million project through tax exempt Athletics Department revenue bonds. USC will request a rebate in an amount equal to the admissions tax generated by the Colonial Center and baseball stadium, which is collected by the City of Columbia to assist in covering the debt service. Should USC pursue the amphitheater concept, the facility would cost more than $12 million. This option would require additional financial support from the City.
The capacity of the stadium/amphitheater would be 6,500 for baseball and up to 8,000 for outdoor concerts. For this option, the Athletics Department would also make available 2,000 seats for all Carolina baseball games to the general public with no Gamecock Club or Alumni priority.
The USC Athletics Department would manage all aspects of the stadium and would work with the architect in the design and with the contractor during the construction process, as was the process with the Colonial Center.
Over the past two years, the University has been involved in extensive discussions to examine the available options for improving its baseball facilities. Discussions with University President Dr. Andrew Sorensen , Athletics Director Mike McGee, head baseball coach Ray Tanner, Columbia Mayor Bob Coble, members of City Council, representatives of the Capital City Bombers, and private developers have taken place. Three options were considered initially:
The renovation of Sarge Frye Field
The construction of a new stadium located at the State Farmer’s Market to be used solely by the Gamecock baseball team
The construction of a new joint-use stadium located in the Vista area to be shared by USC and the Capital City Bombers and financed by the City of Columbia
Recently, a group of private developers presented another proposal for a joint-use stadium with financial support also provided by the City. Upon a thorough review of all of these proposals, USC has decided to move forward with its own stadium.
“Mindful of the importance of this decision to the athletics department and the continuing success of our nationally recognized baseball program, I have been deliberate in gathering facts and considering each option presented to us,” said Dr. Andrew Sorensen, University President. “Based upon our discussions, it is my recommendation the best option available to the University is to build a new baseball stadium located near the
Colonial Center for the use of the Carolina baseball team.”
Mike McGee, USC Director of Athletics, explained that the other proposals did not best serve the interests of the University and the Gamecock fans.
“We carefully examined each of the proposals that were brought forward and have concluded that a single use stadium is the most feasible,” said McGee. “After consultation with our baseball coach, Ray Tanner, we strongly believe that a single use stadium is in the best interests of the Carolina baseball program and its loyal fans. Additionally, with the NCAA set to legislate a change in the playing season, which would move college baseball’s season back by a month, there would be serious scheduling conflicts with a joint tenant.”
USC baseball coach Ray Tanner has led the Gamecocks to three consecutive NCAA College World Series appearances, with national finishes of second, sixth, and third, respectively. Additionally, Carolina is the winningest baseball program in Division 1-A since 2000. Coach Tanner is steadfast in his support of a single use stadium.
“On behalf of the Carolina baseball program, we are thrilled with the prospects of the University building our own stadium,” said Coach Tanner. “I have had the opportunity to be involved in these deliberations and this is without question the best avenue for us to pursue. We are confident it will be a tremendous boost to our program and will be a great addition for our fans, who have proven to be among the most loyal in all of college baseball.”