Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Events/teams Carolinas should go after

SC is a very big state for sports. We are going into one of our "slow" times of year however. South Carolina lost in the College World Series last night (Monday). This ended the college sports season.

Charleston has the Battery and RiverDogs to follow, along with World TeamTennis (plus the PGA Championship this year, which will be huge for the entire state), Myrtle Beach has the Pelicans and a NPSL team, Greenville the Drive, and the Rock Hill area has the Charlotte Knights.

Other parts of the state only have summer league and American Legion baseball, along with players arriving at many of the state's football playing universities. This is usually a slow time of year for most of the state. There are several events and/or teams that SC should go after which would be very interesting.

I will list the top 5 things that the state of South Carolina should do in sports.

1) A real thought that should be done: When Knights Stadium is closed for baseball for the new stadium in uptown Charlotte, it should be reconsidered for a MLS team. It could add 10,000 more seats to expand to 20,000 seats or more. Knights Castle is 20 minutes from Charlotte, and 20 minutes from Rock Hill. The stadium easily could be expanded. There's a couple million people easily within driving distance there.

You also have Columbia less than 90 minutes away with 600,000-700,000, the Triad less than 2 hours away, and most of the Upstate is within 2 hours. That's easily 4, perhaps 5 million people within 2 hours of Knights Stadium. I think the population of the Carolinas would support a team there.

You could build around it by making condos, houses, office buildings, and new transit developments around the stadium. There is a huge population who supports soccer in York County and the Charlotte area who would enjoy a MLS team greatly. Its appeal could grow throughout the Carolinas. It would compete for a team with Raleigh if it occurs, but I think the MLS should take a look at this site.

2) Charleston should go after a team for Johnson-Hagood Stadium. Johnson-Hagood Stadium seats 21,000 and is a huge asset for the Charleston community during the football season. Sertoma and The Citadel get big crowds in there from August-November. For the rest of the year, they only have a few lacrosse games, concerts and a few other events.

There's no reason why the USFL shouldn't look at Charleston. Over 2 million live within 100 miles of Charleston, and here is more info about it:

3) USC needs to lift the embargo on minor league teams in Colonial Life Arena and Carolina Stadium. Columbia is one of the most under served sports markets in the nation. After the Inferno "suspended" operations and the Bombers left, the city was left with only summer league baseball, which might leave after this year because Capital City Stadium is going to be torn down and will become a Walmart. If you are not a South Carolina fan, there are very few choices.

You have Benedict and Allen University with their sports teams, a couple of other universities, the Blowfish, and high school sports. That's it. Colonial Life Arena could easily support an AHL team, let alone a ECHL team. They could host yearly NHL and NBA exhibitions (already host NBA exhibitions). The problem is, the Bombers games in their last years were poorly attended. The Inferno should have had a new arena five years ago but it didn't work out.

Carolina Stadium is probably the quality of a AA stadium, but minor league games would have to be played during Gamecock road trips probably until June. I don't know why USC won't at least let a minor league team play in there.

4) Florence should renovate the Florence Civic Center. Florence is a market of over 200,000, with an arena seating as many as 10,000 for concerts, and yet there are no sports teams in that arena. There is no reason why that arena sits there for most of the year except for a few concerts, church services, and trade shows.

If you renovate that arena (even just add a new scoreboard), you could have a lot more events. Francis Marion could play a game or two there. The lower state HS championships (a huge draw in its first year there) would grow. You could have D1 teams (Coastal, Citadel, NC schools) play games there. Maybe you could get better concerts. Perhaps, lower level hockey or basketball. There's no reason why that arena, the largest arena between Columbia and Wilmington isn't used more often.

5) Spartanburg should go after an affiliated baseball team. It would probably have to be a rookie Appalachian League team, but the town is large enough for a South Atlantic League team. The problem is, where would the team play? Is it big enough? Duncan Park hasn't been used for affiliated baseball since 1994 when the Phillies low-A club left. There is a newer stadium at Wofford College though that can seat 2,500. If a SAL team wants to move and has no other good location, Spartanburg would be a good place to play.

Those are just a few of the ideas which would make sports in South Carolina more exciting than it already is. That's my opinion. What is yours?

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