The Savannah Sand Gnats minor-league baseball team will move to Columbia, South Carolina, following the current baseball season, according to a news release on the team’s website Thursday.
The statement says stadium issues were at the heart of the move.
“While we have always believed that Savannah would be a great home for professional baseball, the challenges and expenses of operating a facility as dated as Grayson Stadium have proven to be insurmountable,” the statement says. “We offered to co-invest with the City, as we have done in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and now in Columbia, South Carolina, to insure the long-term success of baseball in Savannah and to allow us to bring concerts and other civic and community events to this City. Unfortunately, we were not successful on that front.”
According to milb.com, Grayson Stadium opened in 1926 and has a capacity of 4,000 people. Renovations including a new press box, stadium club and bigger restrooms were done to the stadium in 1995, with more upgrades, such as a new scoreboard with a 300-square-foot video board, taking place prior to the 2007 season. The Sand Gnats, a Class A affiliate of the New York Mets, won the 2013 South Atlantic League championship, the franchise’s 10th league title and the most of any current league member. Savannah made the playoffs last season.
The Sand Gnats will have not only a new city next season, but also a new stadium in which to play. According to Columbia TV station WLTX, the team, which also will change its name, will play in the under-construction Spirit Communications Park, a $37 million facility for baseball and other events that is expected to open in April. Its capacity is expected to be about 8,000.
There is still time to catch the Sand Gnats at Grayson, as the team’s season doesn’t end until September.