COLUMBIA, SC - After just one season, Stadium Journey rated the home of the Columbia Fireflies the best ballpark experience in the South Atlantic League. Spirit Communications Park also landed in the top 20 of the publication's overall annual rankings, coming in at No. 17 out of 160 minor league venues - higher than 22 triple-A, 28 double-A and 29 advanced-A clubs. Stadium Journey reviews all minor league venues and bases its rankings on the FANFARE scale which takes food and beverage, atmosphere, fan involvement and stadium access into consideration.
"The ballpark itself has just about everything a minor league fan could ask for," said the founder of Stadium Journey, Paul Swaney. "From quirky designs in the outfield to walkable concourses, everything is here. Designers Populous and ownership of Hardball Capital combined to do what they always do, and that's build a great and fan friendly stadium."
The park received sterling marks for its food and beverage selection, game-day atmosphere, return on investment for fans and stadium extras, pulling in a perfect five-out-of-five stars in each category. Stadium Journey praised that, "every single ballpark [concession] staple you could hope for can be found here, and it's all of excellent quality." The publication was also impressed with the park's walkability which created "so many great views." Stadium Journey continued, "to add to that, the park provides more tabletop seating than I've ever seen at a minor league park."
"We're incredibly honored and excited about being rated the number one ballpark experience in the South Atlantic League," Team President John Katz said. "This ranking is an acknowledgement of everything that goes into creating the amazing atmosphere that our community experiences every night. A large portion of the ratings had to do with fan engagement and enthusiasm, which we received high marks on. We thank all of our fans who help make Spirit Communications Park one of best places to catch a baseball game in the country."
Stadium Journey finished its review by stating Spirit Communications Park, "is likely to evolve into one of the best Single-A experiences in the country as the area [around the park] grows up."
Earlier this year, another leading publication that covers the business of Minor League Baseball, Ballpark Digest, named Spirit Communications Park its 2016 Ballpark of the Year.
Groundbreaking for Spirit Communications Park was on January 6, 2015, and the multi-use park hosted its first baseball game on April 14, 2016 in front of a sellout crowd of 9,077. On July 5 - a day after welcoming a record 9,228 fans into the park for Independence Day baseball - Spirit Communications Park broke the single-season attendance record for any professional baseball team in Columbia's storied history. In total, 261,134 fans passed through the park's gates in 2016; an additional 10,000+ people have also attended community and private events at the ballpark.
2016 Organizational Honors
- No. 1 Ballpark Experience in the South Atlantic League (No. 17 in Minor League Baseball)
- 2016 Ballpark of the Year (Ballpark Digest)
- 2016 Best New Logo and Branding Award (Ballpark Digest)
- Awarded 2017 South Atlantic League All-Star Game
2017 season tickets can be purchased by visiting FirefliesTickets.com or calling the Fireflies Box Office at (803) 776-4487.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.