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)