Segra Park, the home of the Class A Columbia Fireflies, has been recognized as one of the top baseball stadiums built in the last 10 years.
Industry publication Ballpark Digest on Tuesday released its Ballparks of the Decade list, in which it tabbed the best stadiums built in the last 10 years at all levels of professional baseball. In the Low A category (in the minor leagues there is Low A and High A ball), Segra Park — the $37 million, mostly publicly funded park in the still-developing BullStreet District — took top honors.
Ballpark Digest had previously named Segra Park as its Ballpark of the Year in 2016. At that time, Ballpark Digest founder Kevin Reichard said he was particularly taken with the various seating options at Segra. There are a dozen different types of seating at the stadium.
“Given how many different seating options and vantage points are present at Spirit Communications Park, fans will find a Fireflies game to be a unique experience every night,” Reichard wrote. “The combination of an outstanding ballpark anchoring economic development is a model for future MiLB and MLB facilities.”
In the recently released Ballpark of the Decade list, North Augusta's SRP Park, which opened in 2018, was the runner-up in Low A. The Digest chose Atlanta's SunTrust Park as the top Major League Baseball stadium erected in this decade.
The Fireflies, a Class A affiliate of the New York Mets, recently wrapped their fourth season in Columbia. They've averaged 268,325 fans per season over the four years. The best attended season was 2017, at 315,034. That year was bolstered by quarterback-turned-outfielder Tim Tebow's presence on the team during the first half of the season. In 2019 the Fireflies welcomed 245,522 fans.
“This award truly belongs to the amazing community who make the atmosphere at Segra Park one of the best in all of minor league baseball," Fireflies President John Katz said in a news release. "With the continued growth of the BullStreet District, the ballpark will continue to be a true entertainment destination for our community, visitors to our region and a wonderful gathering place that is here for — and belongs to — everyone in Columbia and the Midlands.”
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin was pleased with the honor for Segra Park ("That's strong!" he texted Free Times) and said the city set out to build a showplace ballpark.
"We promised the public a first class multi-use venue that our citizens deserved," Benjamin said. "We delivered on that promise with no increase in taxes and an incredible improvement in quality of life for our families."
The larger BullStreet site around the stadium is still a work in progress. Construction is well underway on a new REI store near Bull Street and Colonial Drive, which will be the site's first national retailer. A public park is under construction just east of Segra Park, and construction is underway on Merrill Gardens, a senior living development just northeast of the baseball stadium. Bone-In Barbeque, in the Ensor Building in front of the ballpark, has been venturing out with new events, and Central Energy at Downtown Church, on the southeast part of the site, is emerging as an event space.