The City of Madison has taken its next step toward bringing a minor league baseball team back to Madison County, but there are still concerns and disagreements over the plan, as more details have surfaced during a Monday meeting.
The city council unanimously approved a development agreement which allows for the funding of a minor league baseball stadium in the southern portion of the city.
The Madison City Council says it has many steps it needs to complete before it begins constructing the baseball stadium, which could be the future home of the Mobile BayBears. The council is still awaiting the final pieces of a feasibility study currently being conducted on the stadium, which will be located in the Town Madison development south of Interstate 565 and west of Zierdt Road. The entire development is expected to provide residential, retail, entertainment and office space.
The city is also attempting to amend the Town Madison Cooperative District Agreement to help make this happen. Part of the goal is to expedite the process of building an interchange off Interstate 565 at Zierdt Road to allow people to access the stadium with greater ease.
The proposed $46 million, 7,000-seat venue would host 70 minor league games along with football and soccer games. The park would host other events including fireworks shows, meetings and other community events. The feasibility study says a 6,000-seat stadium would work best, but the franchise owner, BallCorps, wants the stadium to seat 7,000. It is still undetermined what the capacity will be at this time. The city's cost is not going to come from school or road funding sources,
The city believes this project will help give the Town Madison development and the overall economy a major boost, as it believes minor league baseball has a proven track record of driving more revenue into the cities that get franchises.
Madison city leaders say it is of great importance to finalize this plan, but some Madison residents in attendance feel like the city is rushing, as the news of the proposed basebally stadium surfaced in November, and it is a substantial public investment.
Madison Mayor Paul Finley says this franchise will differ from the Huntsville Stars, a minor league franchise which moved to Biloxi after the 2014 season, because it will be locally-owned, and the city will establish a capital maintenance fund which will go toward stadium improvements.