The longtime home pitch of the Charleston Battery is set to be sold to a real estate developer in a deal that will likely bring the professional soccer club's matches to downtown Charleston next year.
Holland Park LLC, which holds a lease on the facility, is close to finalizing a deal to sell MUSC Health Stadium and the surrounding land, including the practice field and offices, according to documents filed with Berkeley County.
The sale does not include the USL franchise.
The buyer is an affiliate of Atlanta-based Holder Properties.
The Battery is working on a deal to relocate, with the hopes of playing next year’s matches at The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium.
Eric Bowman’s B Sports Entertainment bought the club from Tony Bakker in 2016. At the same time, Holland Park acquired the 11-acre stadium site for $8.5 million.
Bakker, founder and former CEO of software maker Blackbaud Inc., had been the Battery's owner for more than two decades. He was responsible for bringing professional soccer to Charleston in 1992, when the club played its games at Stoney Field near The Citadel.
The Battery moved to its current home field just off U.S. Interstate 526 in 1999 when the 5,100-seat Blackbaud Stadium, now MUSC Health Stadium, was completed as the first soccer-specific venue in the United States.
The Medical University of South Carolina acquired the naming rights in 2015. Its $185,000-a-year agreement expires at the end of 2019.
"Our only comment at this time is that we are aware of the proposed sale and will be meeting with Charleston Battery officials in the near future," MUSC spokesman Tony Ciuffo said in a written statement.
As part of the deal, Berkeley County Council this week approved the transfer of tax incentives the stadium received years ago from Holland Park to Holder Properties. The sale price has not been disclosed.
John Holder, CEO of the buyer, could not be reached for comment Wednesday about his plans for the stadium. Among other real estate projects in the Charleston region, his firm has developed two office buildings on Daniel Island. They include Blackbaud's new global headquarters, which was completed less than a year ago.
Bowman declined to discuss the sale of the stadium. He said in an email that he's interested in moving the team back onto the peninsula.
"If there were an opportunity to move the team to downtown Charleston where the club started, the Charleston Battery would be extremely excited about the opportunity,” Bowman said Wednesday. “The possibilities to benefit the local community and the energy it would bring to the nation’s longest running professional soccer team are invigorating."
The club has approached The Citadel about leasing Johnson Hagood Stadium for its matches beginning in 2020.
“We’ve held some preliminary discussions with the Battery, but nothing has been finalized,” said Mike Capaccio, athletic director for the military college. “We’re going to do what’s best for The Citadel’s athletic program, our student-athletes and our fans.”
The Battery has won four league championships along the way. The Battery and USL rival Richmond Kickers stand as the oldest continuously operating professional soccer teams in America.
That original league has since developed into the USL, which has 36 franchises in the Championship Division.