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krazeeboi

Is the Inferno ditching Columbia?

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This editorial in today's edition of The State says that the Inferno is preparing to leave Columbia, possibly returning after a new arena gets built. Apparently, USC hasn't been the best host in terms of facilities.

In the case of the Bombers, I don't think USC was primarily at fault (although it more than likely played some sort of role), but in this case, I don't see how anyone could say otherwise. The city needs to be careful that what is arguably the city's greatest blessing doesn't also become its greatest curse.

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I think professional teams need to build their own facilities and not rely on USC's facilities in order to survive. The baseball team tried to bully USC into building a stadium with them and when they wouldn't, they left. Wouldn't you know that team ended up having to build their own stadium in Greenville. Let's face it, minor league baseball, hockey, whatever isn't really that big a deal. The biggest draw for those teams is when they have discount beer. I'd like to see Columbia keep the Inferno and have at least a double A baseball team, but the University shouldn't have to help subsidize a pro team.

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Hmm. Well, its not a big loss. Nobody cares about hockey anyway, much less minor league hockey. USC probably wants to redevelop the Carolina Coliseum, and given that the Inferno is the only regular event there, its natural to think that they'd want the Inferno out.

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But the bigger picture here is that these teams are leaving, and USC's stronghold on the city has something to do with it. What kind of case can be made in the future for major league professional sports teams being established in the city when even minor league teams are being run away? Look at the Panthers' inaugural season as proof of that.

And I would disagree that minor league teams aren't much of a draw, especially when you talk about baseball. There are too many successful examples of that in the Carolinas alone--the Drive in Greenville, the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Durham Bulls, and the Charlotte Knights are preparing to build a stadium in Uptown.

I honestly don't think the Inferno was looking to be "subsidized" by USC. They were initially told that they could play at the Colonial Center, but then USC reneged on that deal. So faced with having to play at a substandard facility for a little longer, they had to put together plans to build their own arena after the fact. But I don't think that it's necessary that all of these teams build their own facilities. It's overkill, and it's more of a burden on taxpayers. Furthermore, we lament the fact when suburban locations for such facilities are proposed (the original site of the Inferno arena in Lexington, the proposed ballpark in the NE), but how would having three ballparks (Sarge Frye, new USC ballpark, minor league ballpark) or three arenas (Colonial Center, Carolina Coliseum, minor league arena) look in a downtown as small as Columbia's? Several other facilities across the nation host more than one team (the RBC Arena in Raleigh hosts NC State basketball and the Carolina Hurricanes), so I don't think there's any excuse for Columbia. I know you guys may feel differently about this being alumni of USC, but most people aren't going to feel that attached to a college team unless they've attended that school or the teams are doing exceptionally well. Columbia will have to shake that mindset if it truly wants to become "world class" so that its amenities appeal to a broader group of people.

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I think professional teams need to build their own facilities and not rely on USC's facilities in order to survive. The baseball team tried to bully USC into building a stadium with them and when they wouldn't, they left. Wouldn't you know that team ended up having to build their own stadium in Greenville. Let's face it, minor league baseball, hockey, whatever isn't really that big a deal. The biggest draw for those teams is when they have discount beer. I'd like to see Columbia keep the Inferno and have at least a double A baseball team, but the University shouldn't have to help subsidize a pro team.

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The Drive organization offered to build the ballpark in exchange for the property offered by the City - another great example of public-private partnership in this city. There was never a discussion between the two organizations about the City paying for a new ballpark. The Drive (Bombers) organization was enthusiastic about the entire deal.

I assume you haven't been to a Greenville Drive game then. The draw spreads far beyond dollar beer nights. This organization knows how to successfully operate and maximize the intricately detailed quality of its small facility, thus making spectators feel every bit as comfortable as if they are attending a major league facility. These are not simply my own words, since they have been spoken repeatedly by visitors from larger cities with major league venues. One example you can read at home is in the May edition of Southern Living magazine.

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But the bigger picture here is that these teams are leaving, and USC's stronghold on the city has something to do with it. What kind of case can be made in the future for major league professional sports teams being established in the city when even minor league teams are being run away? Look at the Panthers' inaugural season as proof of that.

And I would disagree that minor league teams aren't much of a draw, especially when you talk about baseball. There are too many successful examples of that in the Carolinas alone--the Drive in Greenville, the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Durham Bulls, and the Charlotte Knights are preparing to build a stadium in Uptown.

I honestly don't think the Inferno was looking to be "subsidized" by USC. They were initially told that they could play at the Colonial Center, but then USC reneged on that deal. So faced with having to play at a substandard facility for a little longer, they had to put together plans to build their own arena after the fact. But I don't think that it's necessary that all of these teams build their own facilities. It's overkill, and it's more of a burden on taxpayers. Furthermore, we lament the fact when suburban locations for such facilities are proposed (the original site of the Inferno arena in Lexington, the proposed ballpark in the NE), but how would having three ballparks (Sarge Frye, new USC ballpark, minor league ballpark) or three arenas (Colonial Center, Carolina Coliseum, minor league arena) look in a downtown as small as Columbia's? Several other facilities across the nation host more than one team (the RBC Arena in Raleigh hosts NC State basketball and the Carolina Hurricanes), so I don't think there's any excuse for Columbia. I know you guys may feel differently about this being alumni of USC, but most people aren't going to feel that attached to a college team unless they've attended that school or the teams are doing exceptionally well. Columbia will have to shake that mindset if it truly wants to become "world class" so that its amenities appeal to a broader group of people.

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A new stadium will almost always be a good draw for a few years, but the real test is to see how attendance will be after that. It very well may continue to be good, but attendance typically takes a dip after a few years (remember the Greenville Braves)? The situation with the Bombers in Columbia was that they expected to share a facility with USC and the city was willing to be part of that deal, but USC wasn't. The Bombers tried to force the city to put in an excessive amount of money without USC in the mix and then the Bombers moved when the city wouldn't give them what they wanted. I'm a huge sports fan, but honestly, single A baseball is just not a big draw for most people. Get back with me about the Drive's attendance in a few years.

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...McGee did have one thing right - pro sports are competition and I think physical attendance at Clemson has clearly dropped since the Panthers played there. It used to be that every seat was almost always filled at Clemson and there are numerous empty seats at almost every game there now. That may not be entirely because of the Panthers, but their existence sure hasn't helped. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't hurt USC's attendance a bit, also.

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A new stadium will almost always be a good draw for a few years, but the real test is to see how attendance will be after that. It very well may continue to be good, but attendance typically takes a dip after a few years (remember the Greenville Braves)? The situation with the Bombers in Columbia was that they expected to share a facility with USC and the city was willing to be part of that deal, but USC wasn't. The Bombers tried to force the city to put in an excessive amount of money without USC in the mix and then the Bombers moved when the city wouldn't give them what they wanted. I'm a huge sports fan, but honestly, single A baseball is just not a big draw for most people. Get back with me about the Drive's attendance in a few years.

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I believe attendance at college football games typically reflects how well a team is performing week by week. That being said, it is fairly hard to judge since Clemson averages well over 80,000 spectators during each home game.

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I believe attendance at college football games typically reflects how well a team is performing week by week. That being said, it is fairly hard to judgClemson averages well over 80,000 spectators during each home gamee since Clemson averages well over 80,000 spectators during each home game.

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Averages 80,000 per game? LOL Don't watch much Clempson football, do ya? :) I've always found it laughable that Clempson will REPORT a large number, like 78,000, but when you watch the game on TV, you can see huge empty sections in the upper decks...so empty that you can actually read the orange letters they have painted on the decks...

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Lets just face it, hockey is a northern winter sport. Its never going to be very popular down in the South, except perhaps to relocated yankees. Sure the games can be entertaining to go to, but how many of you can actually say that you follow them religiously like you would Clemson or Carolina baseball?

But the bigger picture here is that these teams are leaving, and USC's stronghold on the city has something to do with it. What kind of case can be made in the future for major league professional sports teams being established in the city when even minor league teams are being run away? Look at the Panthers' inaugural season as proof of that.

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I think you guys should understand that I'm not advocating that the university subsidize a minor league team, but it should at least be willing to partner with a minor league team, for the good of both the university and the city. As I stated, I understand you guys are biased as USC alumni, but I don't think you all are being totally realistic. Not everyone in Columbia shares your enthusiasm for USC sports, including some USC alumni. So should it just be a case of "too bad, the university owns this town whether you like it or not" for those people? The metro area is large enough to have both USC sports and minor league sports, and USC shouldn't feel threatened by that.

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I think you guys should understand that I'm not advocating that the university subsidize a minor league team, but it should at least be willing to partner with a minor league team, for the good of both the university and the city. As I stated, I understand you guys are biased as USC alumni, but I don't think you all are being totally realistic. Not everyone in Columbia shares your enthusiasm for USC sports, including some USC alumni. So should it just be a case of "too bad, the university owns this town whether you like it or not" for those people? The metro area is large enough to have both USC sports and minor league sports, and USC shouldn't feel threatened by that.

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..lets be fair to USC. I memory serves correctly, the Inferno came to the Colonial Center party late, but were still being entertained. The deal breaker was that the bonds USC used to build the Colonial Center were only good for non-profit entities. Including the Ice Rink for use by a professional team would have meant they would have to find other financing...likely much higher interest rate bonds. Thats what killed the deal, not an unwillingness to work with the team. That said, the Inferno should stand on their own merit. they knew at their inception that the Coliseum was a limited home, and one that is less than ideal. They should have had immediate plans for a permanent home. Now they are facing suspension (or whatever they call it) from the ECHL because they may not have a home. That sounds to me like a bed that they made.

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..lets be fair to USC. I memory serves correctly, the Inferno came to the Colonial Center party late, but were still being entertained. The deal breaker was that the bonds USC used to build the Colonial Center were only good for non-profit entities. Including the Ice Rink for use by a professional team would have meant they would have to find other financing...likely much higher interest rate bonds. Thats what killed the deal, not an unwillingness to work with the team. That said, the Inferno should stand on their own merit. they knew at their inception that the Coliseum was a limited home, and one that is less than ideal. They should have had immediate plans for a permanent home. Now they are facing suspension (or whatever they call it) from the ECHL because they may not have a home. That sounds to me like a bed that they made.

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USC knew how the arena would be financed the entire time, so to me, it doesn't seem plausible that they only found out that the Inferno couldn't play there at the last minute. Granted, the Inferno shares some of the blame there as well, but to me, this sounds a bit disingenous on the part of USC. Furthermore, doesn't an arena football team play at the Colonial Center? At least they did at one time, and I don't think they're a charity.

I know. With the Inferno leaving, it really brings the issue to light. In retrospect, maybe County Council should have entertained the idea of a ballpark being built in NE. Downtown only has room for USC facilities, it seems.

Precisely.

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I think you guys should understand that I'm not advocating that the university subsidize a minor league team, but it should at least be willing to partner with a minor league team, for the good of both the university and the city. As I stated, I understand you guys are biased as USC alumni, but I don't think you all are being totally realistic. Not everyone in Columbia shares your enthusiasm for USC sports, including some USC alumni. So should it just be a case of "too bad, the university owns this town whether you like it or not" for those people? The metro area is large enough to have both USC sports and minor league sports, and USC shouldn't feel threatened by that.

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I likewise would be perfectly fine with pro sports in Columbia, in fact I would love to see a double A baseball team, see the Inferno do well and have a higher level arena football team. I think Columbia residents would support them. Despite the lack of amenities at the old Coliseum, attendance at Inferno games is still decent. The fact of all this remains, however, that USC has made it abundantly clear that they are not going to share facilities with a pro team. I'm sure the city would be willing to work with pro teams to assist their success, but the Bombers wanted too much, in my opinion. By the way, the Bombers were previously the Columbia Mets and they survived in Columbia for many years.

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I am all for pro sports coming to Columbia, and as I have stated before, if they come it should be in the center of the city- access for all.

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Infinite, I'm not sure what you're getting at with the ice issue. Again, that was something that was known from the outset, so I'm not seeing how/why that would have affected anything. A deal was made, and it was reneged on. There's no other way around it.

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Firstly, do you realistically think this will happen? With much of the vacant land downtown now being designated as Innovista territory, I don't see how it can. Even if that weren't the case, does anyone not else see how having a downtown full of multiple arenas is NOT a good thing? The Colonial Center, the Coliseum, AND a hockey arena? Sarge Frye (not exactly downtown, but close enough), USC's new ballpark, AND a minor league ballpark? SIX mega-structures downtown? Joint-use would be the best solution here and USC's unwillingness to work with (NOT SUBSIDIZE) any other team for this purpose is truly unfortunate.

Infinite, I'm not sure what you're getting at with the ice issue. Again, that was something that was known from the outset, so I'm not seeing how/why that would have affected anything. A deal was made, and it was reneged on. There's no other way around it.

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3. There was no deal and a renege...there were discussions and plans.

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