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Rained-out All-Star game drew in thousands of fans, proved Columbia’s new devotion to Fireflies

Chances are, if you didn’t make it to the MiLB South Atlantic League’s 2017 All-Star Game, it was probably because you had a hard time locating your poncho and rain boots.

The All-Star Game featured the best players from the Asheville Tourists, Augusta Greenjackets, Charleston Riverdogs, Delmarva Shorebirds, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Greenville Drive, Hagerstown Suns, Hickory Crawdads, Kannapolis Intimidators, Lakewood Blueclaws, Lexington Legends, Rome Braves, West Virginia Power, and, of course, the Columbia Fireflies.

The game finished in a 3-3 tie between the Northern and Southern All-Star teams, and was called in the seventh inning due to the downpour of rain falling over Spirit Communications Park.

4,012 fans braved the evening’s rain to make their way through the gates of the ball park last night.  Most seats remained empty, with hundreds of fans choosing to huddle together in the covered areas of the ballpark near food and beer vendors.  In spite of the heat, most fans kept on their rain coats, ponchos, boots, and rain hats for the duration of the game’s seven innings.

Merandy Gonzalez, Jordan Humphreys, Michael Paez, Adonis Uceta, and Dash Winningham were selected from the Fireflies to play in the All-Star Game, and fans cheered wildly for their local favorites.  Winningham was awarded the All-Star Game’s MVP title.

Although Spirit Communications Park could accommodate more than twice the amount of sports fans that appeared at Tuesday’s All-Star Game, the presence of over 4,000 fans in the soggy, humid Columbia weather demonstrates that the city has fallen in love with the ball park and the Fireflies.  The park is located in the rapidly expanding Bull Street District, whose recent additions include senior living, a luxury movie theater, a collection of 28 town homes, a software services provider offering over 100 new jobs, and even a new church.

Spirit Communications Park has been the crux of the redevelopment of the Bull Street neighborhood over the last year, hosting not only Fireflies games but also an array of other special events, fundraisers, and other local sports events. In 2017, the team’s ticket sales increased almost 40% from their inaugural season.

The next Fireflies game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Thursday, as the team takes on the Kannapolis Intimidators in a home game.

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