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Madison City Council moves forward with financing ballpark despite public, member pushback

The Madison City Council approved three measures Monday on their checklist to get the Mobile BayBears relocated to Madison by 2020.

Posted: Feb. 26, 2018 9:57 PM
Updated: Feb. 27, 2018 10:27 AM

The city of Madison continues to tie up loose ends to finance an $46 million dollar baseball stadium. 

Madison City Council approved three measures Monday to further solidify its efforts to have the Mobile BayBears relocate to North Alabama by 2020. 

Council approved:
- Moving forward with the warrant validation process to kick start the financing procedures for the $46.6 million [7,000 seats] multi-purpose venue, which will be leased to BallCorps, LLC for 30 years.
- Authorizing a property agreement to obtain ownership of land being donated towards the stadium.
- Authorizing a venue development agreement with BallCorps, LLC., which lays out who will make what decision during the construction process.

Council did, however, table amending the funding agreement for Town Madison while the details are still being worked out.  Revising the Town Madison funding agreement would primarily be to increase the infrastructure budget [with the developer] from $22 million to $40 million to help fast track the I-565 interchange. 

“Until everything is laid out and we have all of the information, I’ve always said if I don’t have all the information, my vote is no,” said Councilman Teddy Powell.

WAAY 31 attempted to get a copy of the lease, licensing and management agreement between the city and BallCorps, LLC, the new owners of the Mobile BayBears, but officials are not releasing it just yet.  In a statement the city noted that "certain terms of the agreement are still open and pending final resolution."

Council President Tommy Overcash said, "Some folks would like to see more details and sometimes you just don't get that, you know.  As with some processes you have to accept a little bit of risk or you can study the problem to death if you want to."   Overcash also expressed his continued confidence in bringing baseball to Madison and doesn’t consider tabling the Town Madison resolution a set back for their timeline.

The council also menitoned that there are contingencies in place that would allow both parties to opt out of the agreement as ongoing negotiations continue. 

Some contingencies include BallCorps getting final approval from Minor League baseball and the Southern League to relocate the team as well as the city procuring funding for the stadium [They have a bond maximum of $46 million. As is the current design is $600,000 over budget].

Ralph Nelson, the owner of the BayBears, told WAAY 31 he is confident they will receive approval to bring baseball back to the Tennessee Valley.  

The council is expected to revisit the Town Madison funding agreement at the next meeting.

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