Posted January 23, 2014 12:06 pm - Updated January 23, 2014 12:09 pm

Sand Gnats pondering stadium future

There have been rumblings here and there over the past few months regarding the Savannah Sand Gnats and their stadium situation, and things recently became a little clearer.


A report by Eric Curl of the Savannah Morning News says Hardball Capital, which owns the Sand Gnats, presented a proposal to Columbia, S.C.'s City Council on Monday outlining a possible minor league stadium for the city. The report says the council would consider whether to enter into negotiations with ownership on financing and management options for the proposal.


The next day, Columbia's council approved the start of negotiations for a new stadium.


Ownership's CEO Jason Freier submitted a similar proposal to Savannah in December, so the team is leaving its options open. But Freier said getting Columbia a team would become his priority if a stadium deal is reached.


The Sand Gnats' contract to play at Grayson Stadium ends after the 2014 season, so three options are on the table for the team: Extend the contract and remain at Grayson, reach a stadium deal and build a new one in Savannah, or reach a deal and build a new stadium in Columbia.


Regardless, a new stadium won't be built overnight, so the Sand Gnats might have to return to Grayson. The stadium will turn 88 years old in 2014 and is one of the most historical parks in the country, with the list of big names to play on the field running a mile long. It's a unique place to watch a game, and the team comes up with great deals to draw fans. But attendance has suffered lately, according to South Atlantic League numbers. Plus, we don't know what the Mets look for in their minor league parks in terms of updated facilities.


It sounds like something will eventually happen regarding the Sand Gnats, so it's worth monitoring as a GreenJackets in-state rival and SAL competition.