The softball complex at the South Commons is getting a major overhaul, thanks to a combination of public and private money.
Some of you may remember when Columbus hosted the 1996 Olympic softball games and set its sights on becoming the Softball Capital of the World.
After years on the outside looking in, Columbus is now trying to get back in the international softball game.
The Columbus Sports Council has landed the International Cup – a nine-team tournament with the best softball players in the world. The last time the international softball community gathered in Columbus was more than two decades ago.
Team USA, Japan, Mexico, China, and others will be here July 1st through 7th.
To make it happen, $5.6 million in public and private money had to be allocated to give the South Commons Stadium and three surrounding fields a major facelift. It’s the first significant investment since the facility was built in the 1990s.
The project cost $5.6 million dollars, with the city tossing in $3 million dollars.
Kim Sheek is chairman of the Columbus Sports Council.
“We have committed to raise the remaining $2.6 million,” Sheek said. “So far, we have raised $1.4 million. We have $1.2 million left to go. We have got some significant asks out there right now that we are anticipating hearing from in the next six weeks.”
When you look around the South Commons softball stadium, you see fresh paint, you see new dirt, you see new grass and you see new lights. They’re pumping a lot of money into this to make it right to bring international softball competition back to the City of Columbus.
With it comes national exposure with ESPN, said Sports Council Executive Director Merri Sherman.
“Having ESPN here puts Columbus back on the national stage for softball. It has been quite some time since we have had that exposure through the ESPN network,” she said. “… We’re super excited to have them here and to showcase to the softball enthusiast of the world that Columbus is still here.”