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Friday, Aug 22nd

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Prentice: We're happy in Huntsville

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Huntsville Stars

Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League) owner Miles Prentice says he's pleased with how the team is run and has no plans to leave the market or sell the team.

He spoke on the record recently with the local newspaper and sought to downplay talk of the team leaving Huntsville. The issue, he said, was the condition of Joe Davis Stadium. It's no secret the ballpark is in pretty bad shape and getting worse because of continuing issues with water damage. Despite the ongoing issues, the team is putting money into suite renovations and group areas. Still, Prentice foresees a makeover of the ballpark if the city would agree to a plan:

The spot where it is, I've told them, and I've gone out and gotten estimates, we could re-do that ballpark in less than a year. You could keep the parking. You have all that land around it that can be developed if you wanted. Downtown has some appeal, but last time I was downtown, there were a lot of empty stores.

Times: Mayor Tommy Battle has said he's interested in a ballpark, but it needs to be a public-private project. The owner needs to have, in his phrase, "some skin in the game." Where are you in terms of a joint public-private partnership?

Prentice: We've never gotten to discuss anything. When we did (the new stadium in) Midland, I put in all the concession equipment. Two million bucks. The stadium was 17 million. That's a pretty significant contribution. Plus as part of an on-going lease payment, I added $50,000 a year. Over 20 years, that's another significant amount. I made those proposals (to Huntsville). They went and built a jail.

Huntsville is an interesting market. It's got a lively high-tech community, and it's more prosperous than the rest of Alabama when it comes to average income and housing values. While the Stars were last in Southern League attendance in 2012, the final tally showed a 25 percent increase in average attendance from 2011, as GM Buck Rogers continues his makeover of the franchise.

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