Professional baseball’s return to Columbia was a hit this summer as a record 261,134 fans flocked to Spirit Communications Park to watch the Fireflies.
The team, which wrapped up its inaugural season Sept. 5, reported today that this summer’s attendance mark topped the former Capital City Bombers’ record of 156,921 total fans in 1996 at Capital City Stadium.
The Fireflies are Columbia’s first professional baseball team since the Bombers left town for Greenville in 2004. The Fireflies are a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets.
The Fireflies also noted that 11 games featured crowds of 5,000 or more, including 9,077 for opening night on April 14, and 9,228 — a single-game record — for the Fourth of July.
Columbia ranked among the best in home season attendance for all Low-A teams in minor league baseball, but also drew more fans than 27 of the 30 Advanced-A clubs, 10 Double-A clubs and even a Triple-A club, which is a notch below major league level.
The $37-million, 7,501-seat multiuse venue, located in the Commons at BullStreet redevelopment project, was completed on time and on budget for the 2016 opener between the Fireflies and the Greenville Drive.
In July, Spirit Communications Park was named the 2016 Ballpark of the Year by Ballpark Digest. "Spirit Communications Park is not only our Ballpark of the Year, it's also one of the best ballparks opened in the last decade," Ballpark Digest Publisher Kevin Reichard said.
Although baseball is over for the year, the venue is now host to high school football games. On Friday, more than 2,000 fans witnessed the first prep game between Ridgeview and Fairfield Central. Two more high school football games will be played at the ballpark this fall, with the next scheduled for Oct. 7 when A.C. Flora plays host to Chapin.
Public events planned for the ballpark include the Mayor’s Walk Against Domestic Violence, Oct. 8; Food Truck Festival, Oct. 9; Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Oct. 15; Palmetto Health Foundation Walk for Life/Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon, Oct. 22; and the Vietnam Memorial Yellow Ribbon Ride, Nov. 12.