P3 to develop minor league baseball stadium in South Carolina

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Spartanburg, South Carolina, will soon be home to another city’s minor league baseball team with the help of the city’s largest-ever economic development package.

Spartanburg’s city council approved a $425 million public-private partnership development deal on Tuesday, anchored on a new 3,500-seat minor league baseball stadium officials said will help revitalize the city’s downtown area.

It is the largest development project in Spartansburg’s history and will help the city “transition to a whole new level of economic activity,” City Manager Chris Story told council members on Tuesday prior to a vote approving the initial plan.

A view of the Spartanburg, South Carolina, lot that will be developed with a baseball stadium, apartment and commercial space.

OneSpartanburg Inc.

“Public-private partnerships of this magnitude are rare and they’re complex,” Story said. “This kind of transformative investment significantly increases the caliber and the breadth of employment opportunities that can come to this community over the next generation.”

The plan calls for the construction of the new stadium that will house the team currently known as the Down East Wood Ducks, the minor league affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers who currently play in Kinston, North Carolina. The project also includes improvements to public infrastructure and the development of new commercial and residential units in a four-block area surrounding the stadium.

The team currently known as the Wood Ducks play in the single-A Carolina League.

Public funds totaling $120 million will cover the stadium’s construction.

That includes $54 million that will come from the state while Spartanburg will cover the rest through several sources, according to an outline of the plan, including a still-to-be-planned sale of $58.6 million in bonds backed by a downtown development fund, hospitality taxes, and future stadium revenues.

The financing plan won’t weigh on the budget of the city of 38,000, Story said.

“The public portion of the project is funded from sources that are specifically defined for purposes that align with this project,” he said. “In other words, there is no general fund tax involved in the financing of this project.”

The project’s developer, Johnson Development Associates, will put up $305 million to cover development initiatives in the surrounding area, including 200,000 square feet of office and commercial space, 375 new apartment units, parking for 1,500, and new public plazas

Officials are seeking a 2025 completion date for the project.

A second reading of the agreement is planned within the next few weeks and Story said it will likely see edits over coming months.

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