Reaction to the Bull Street/Baseball Stadium issue:

A message to the club from Columbia Rotarian Ken Childs:

Thank you for arranging an excellent presentation at Monday’s Rotary meeting on the merit and potential for a minor league baseball park in the Bull Street property development. 

Please notify our membership, by copy of this e-mail, that the Columbia City Council is to receive an update on the plans for the proposed Bull Street property at its meeting this evening.  The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, on the third floor of City Hall, 1737 Main Street.  Hopefully, some of our members will appear and support an imaginative and farsighted development of this property, including the baseball stadium, which will benefit our entire community.  Thank you.


Kenneth L. Childs, Esq. 
Childs & Halligan, P.A.
PO Box 11367
Columbia, SC 29211
(803) 254-4035


If you’d like to weigh in on this issue, you can click here and comment on the Columbia Rotary Facebook Page or you can email your comments to so they can be posted to the website. 

Meeting Recap for Feb 3rd: Jason Freier-Hardball Capital Baseball

President Hal called the meeting to order followed by the pledge of allegiance and the Four Way Test.  Carl Roberts offered the invocation.

President Hal mentioned that since we were offsite that the CART buckets are not on the table, but he expects everyone to double-up next week.

Morgan Harrell welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests of club members.

Donita Todd began Health and Happiness with the news that longtime member Charles Blackmon passed away last week.  She reminded members of the Blood Drive coming up at the Columbia Convention Center on February 28.  With the Olympics less than a week away Donita tossed out several Olympic trivia questions that members eventually answered correctly.

Becky Airheart presented a Paul Harris recognition to Henry McMaster.

Honorary club member Mayor Steve Benjamin introduced our speaker, Jason Freier of Hardball Capital.  Mr. Frier’s topic was “Columbia Ballpark @ Bull Street.”

Mr. Freier outlined how a baseball stadium on the Bull Street property would be beneficial to the city.  Five years ago his firm opened a multi-use stadium in Ft. Wayne, Indiana that has not only brought baseball to the city, but has also spurred development around the stadium.  In addition to the 70 minor league baseball games each year the facility hosts over 330 other events from outdoor concerts to blood drives.  Under the proposal being considered by the city Hardball Capital would manage the facility and cover all operating a capital costs.  The city’s primary expense is the initial cost of the stadium.  Responding to a question about the impact on the Koger Center and Township Auditorium Mr. Freier pointed out that the events they host are frequently not suitable for indoor venues.  For example he pointed out that there are concert tours specifically designed for outdoor venues and cannot be staged at indoor facilities.

President Hal thanked the Mayor and Mr. Frier for providing the club with a comprehensive review of the issues revolving around this important topic.

(Sincere thanks to Rodger Stroup for providing the meeting recap)

Monday, Feb 10th: Rotary is back at Seawell’s.

Monday’s meeting will allow the club to view a Naturalization Ceremony at which 30 applicants for US citizenship who have successfully taken the required courses and passed the required test will take the oath of citizenship, renounce their former citizenship, and officially become US citizens. They represent about 21 foreign countries.  Guest speakers will be naturalized citizens Alex Koutrakos, co-owner of Grecian Garden Restaurant and Sara Svedburg, former news editor for The State newspaper and now a judicial law clerk. US District Judge Joe Anderson will preside.

A message regarding the passing of Columbia Rotarian Charles Blackmon

My name is Diane Blackmon and I am the youngest daughter of Charles Blackmon.  I just wanted to thank you for mentioning Dad in your meeting.  Dad passed away this past Monday, January 27th at the Wayne T. Patrick Hospice House in Rock Hill.  He had Parkinson’s for 12 years and his body just finally broke down; he was 92 years old. He was definitely my hero and I miss him very much.


We have not made any official plans; however, we have tentative plans to have a service in Rock Hill on Saturday and in Columbia at Bethel UMC on Sunday afternoon.


He was so very proud and honored to have been a Rotarian for the past 33 years.  He loved the fellowship and loved sitting at the Dunbar table.


My Mother is 90 years old and hard of hearing so if anyone calls her, please speak loudly because she may not be wearing her hearing aides.


Much thanks again for your care and concern!

Diane Blackmon


February 3rd: Jason Freier from Hardball Capital Baseball

Jason Freier, the Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Hardball Capital Baseball will address Columbia Rotary on Monday, February 3rd. Hardball’s core business is the operation of affiliated Minor League Baseball teams. This has been a very controversial issue in recent weeks regarding the construction of a minor league baseball stadium on the former Bull Street property.  Please make plans to attend and bring a guest.  Don’t forget that we will hold our meeting at Stone River in West Columbia (the old New Orleans Restaurant just over the Gervais Street Bridge)  Hope everyone enjoys Snowmageddon ’14!  Stay warm and we’ll see you Monday at Rotary!

Meeting Recap: January 27th USC AD Ray Tanner

Mike Moorman introduced Beaver Hardy to a packed house including local sports media personalities like Teddy Hefner, and the state beat writer for the Gamecocks.

Robert Goings performed a memorable note entitled “Ray Tanner” to the chorus of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.

Jim Smithwick notified us that Russ Bell has been placed in Hospice in Rock Hill.

Hospice and Community Care 2275 Hook rd. Rock Hill, SC 29732.

Robin Gorman has been named the regional development officer for Converse College.

John Bakus updated us on the golf tournament… It will be Monday 4/28 and will take the place of the meeting that day.

Fellow Rotarian Katherine Horne has received “The Order of the Palmetto”

John Durst introduced our speaker, USC AD Ray Tanner

Coach Tanner discussed the following
:women’s basketball’s 18-2 record
:10 of 20 sports are in the top 25.
: indoor football facility construction will begin in two weeks
: “The Plaza” around the stadium construction will begin immediately following the 2014 season
: The playground at Carolina stadium is nearing completion.
: gamecock club dues deadline is Friday.
: 14th semester in a row of a 3.0 average for the athletic department.
: praised the direction of Coach Martin’s Basketball team

Next week: Jason Fryer from Hardball Capital @Stone River (Old New Orleans Resturant)

Many thanks to Travis Hollis for writing the recap this week.

January 27th Meeting: USC AD Ray Tanner

Please make plans to join us at Rotary on Monday, January 27th.  USC Athletic Director Ray Tanner will speak to the club and it’s always a fun time when Coach Tanner comes to Rotary!  We encourage you to bring a guest and get there early.  Hope everyone has a great weekend.  Stay warm and we’ll see you on Monday at Rotary!


Are you looking for a fun and romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day with your Sweetheart?  Take a ride on the Valentine Dinner Train!

Bring your Sweetheart for a romantic 3 hour trip on the Rockton Rion & Western! Enjoy an exquisite 3 course dinner with adult and regular beverages included. View the twilight scenes from the historic dining car while being served by attendants. Reserve your tickets TODAY!  For more information and to download a reservation form, click here.  Thanks to Rodger Stroup for bringing this to our attention!