Welcome to Columbia: a fan’s guide to the Royals’ newest farm team

After a long and hectic minor league offseason, the Kansas City Royals have a new set of teams in their farm system. One of which includes the Columbia Fireflies, the new Low-A affiliate of the Royals. The Fireflies are located in Columbia, South Carolina and have been in the city since 2016 after relocating from Savannah, Georgia.

Columbia was previously the Single-A affiliate of the New York Mets before they were “dumped” by the Mets via Twitter back in November. Now with the Fireflies officially part of the Royals family, here’s a fan’s guide to Kansas City’s newest farm team.

History of the Fireflies

The Columbia Fireflies have only been in the city for almost five years but if you were visiting Columbia, it wouldn’t seem that way. Despite four losing seasons thus far, the Fireflies have tremendous support from fans in the Columbia community.

The Fireflies have finished in the top half of the South Atlantic League’s attendance figures every year since their move to Columbia in 2016. This was a huge improvement for the franchise as the club would finish near the bottom of the league in the years prior to its relocation.

Before the move to Columbia, the club was known as the Savannah Sand Gnats from 1996-2015 after the team was named the Savannah Cardinals in its initial years. During their time in the Peach State, the Sand Gnats saw decent success with two division titles and four SAL titles.

Some notable players that have passed through Columbia and Savannah include Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, former Dodgers pitcher Éric Gagné and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.

Photo by Sean Rayford, AP

The City of Columbia

Columbia, South Carolina, the state’s capital, is located right in the middle of the Palmetto State. It is about 90 minutes south of Charlotte, North Carolina and about a four hour drive from Atlanta, Georgia. It is South Carolina’s second-largest city in terms of population, with 133,273 residing in Columbia.

The City of Columbia offers many places for tourists to visit, including the South Carolina State House, the historic campus at the University of South Carolina and even the world’s largest fire hydrant.

Columbia is very much a baseball city, fielding various teams throughout the years since 1892. The city has had an extensive relationship with the Mets as this will be the first time a Columbia team is not affiliated with New York since 1961.

The capital city also has a large college baseball following with the University of South Carolina in town. The South Carolina baseball program has a rather successful history with 11 College World Series appearances and two national titles coming in 2010 and 2011.

The 2010 national championship team included Royals star Whit Merrifield, who hit the game-winning RBI to clinch the Gamecocks’ first national title.

Segra Park

Segra Park, previously known as Spirit Communications Park, has been home to the Fireflies since its opening in 2016. The stadium has a capacity of 9,077 which will be the league’s largest capacity in Low-A East. As mentioned before, Columbia draws in pretty solid attendance numbers, averaging 3,720 fans per game in 2019.

The park was named Ballpark of the Year by Ballpark Digest magazine in 2016 after the magazine’s publisher said it was “one of the best ballparks opened in the last decade.”

The ballpark is also open to the public everyday from 7 a.m. til dark for its 1/3 mile concourse loop. However, on game days it closes 3-4 hours prior to first pitch.

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