Florence builds Red Wolves new home

Kei'yona Jordon, Copy Editor

After several years of using FMU’s baseball stadium, the Florence Red Wolves will finally be able to call another ballpark their home.

Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela announced the city’s plan to build a new sports complex beside the Florence Tennis Center with a stadium baseball field that seats over a thousand people.

The stadium will cost about $15 million and the Florence Red Wolves will be able to use the stadium baseball field as the main attraction.

The complex will have six fields and the central field will be used by the Florence Red Wolves.

Kevin Barth, owner of the Florence Red Wolves, said the partnership was right on time and was a saving grace.

“My wife and I were at the point where we decided we were either going to have to close the team down or move it to another city because the ballpark just wasn’t suitable anymore,” Barr said.

Barth said FMU rescued the longevity of their team by offering to let them use the FMU baseball stadium.

According to Wukela, FMU President Fred Carter has been the saving grace for a lot of people in Florence.

“At every opportunity where you see someone in the community who’s working to move the community forward and they might be struggling or facing obstacles, what do they end up doing?” Wukela said. “They end up talking to Fred Carter.”

Carter said the school had been delighted to be a part of the growth of the Red Wolves and he was pleased to have partnered with Barth.

“Mayor, I’m going to tell you that there is no better tenant in the world than Kevin Barth and his family,” Carter said.

Wukela said they didn’t know they would acquire the different partnerships they have now when they were planning to build the complex.

“As we started this construction, we knew we were going to build this nice, central stadium that was going to be an attraction for the city,” Wukela said. “But what we didn’t know was that we would find partners who would occupy this stadium in a way that’s going to be incredibly vibrant for this community.”

Having the Florence Red Wolves along with the other partnerships will help to further improve the economy of Florence. Wukela said it would attract business, draw hospitality dollars, accommodations tax dollars and move the city forward.

Wukela and the city of Florence acknowledged Carter for letting the Florence Red Wolves use their field and grow into the team they are now.

“We want to thank Dr. Carter and Francis Marion for allowing that to occur – the benefit it provided for this community and the benefits it’s provided for the Red Wolves,” Wukela said.

The money for the complex will be coming from funds that they started raising since October of 2017. $15 million was budgeted for city-wide recreation facility improvements.

The construction will lead to the extension of Jennie O’Bryan Avenue and will also include a full-size track and field facility. There will be two parking lots that will have more than 500 spaces and seating for each of the fields.

The Red Wolves plan to section off VIP seating, a beer garden, a place for children to play and group outing hospitality areas.

“It’s going to allow us to not only bring baseball here in the summer,” Barth said. “But it’s going to allow us to be a year-round venue.”

The Florence Red Wolves said they were excited to be able to offer families and people in the city more opportunities to come together.