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How a ballpark deal went bad in Brownsville

When United League Baseball and a local developer failed to finance a new Brownsville ballpark, the city declined to step in — dooming the project.
When United League Baseball first proposed a new Brownsville ballpark in association with developer Richard Hope, the financial arrangement was clear: ULB and Hope would finance the $7.5 million facility and donate it to the city. In return, Hope and ULB would retain development rights to the remainder of the area and receive city-owned land and tax-increment financing.

Even with free land and the guaranteed cash, though, the indy circuit and Hope couldn’t arrange financing for the 3,500-seat ballpark. That led them to return to the city and ask for more financial help in terms of financing. At first the city agreed, but this month the City Commission pulled that support, saying hard financial times dictated conservative spending in CIty Hall.

So where does it leave the project? Basically dead. Hope and ULB officials say they’ll continue to work on financing, but in this economy using housing to leverage funding for a new ballpark is a formula guaranteed to cause lenders to scurry away. And while organized baseball continues to eye the greater McAllen/Brownsville area as a potential expansion site, don’t look for anything to happen anytime soon.