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Birmingham City Council to vote on new ballpark next week

Birmingham BaronsThe Birmingham City Council is expected to vote on a proposed new downtown ballpark next week, but before then the city will hear a report on the potential economic impact of a new facility.

As city approval comes closer, we’re receiving further specifics about the project. First, the ballpark would actually be built by a private group, Corporate Realty, using money from the city, though the city would retain ownership. (HKS Architecture has been working on the project as well.) Second, the Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) have expressed qualified interest in the project: a key for many City Council members has been the participation of the Barons in the project. A downtown ballpark without a main tenant isn’t economically viable, we’re told.

Still, the process has put the Barons in somewhat of a rough spot. Though the public face from the team and owner Stan Logan has been that they’re perfectly happy at Regions Park, there’s no doubt the team could face a financial bonanza with a move to a downtown facility. The team’s lease at Regions Park is up at the end of the year, and Hoover officials have made noise about not approving a short-term lease with the team while the ballpark is built. That’s probably posturing; heck, the Barons could always play at Rickwood Field while the new ballpark was being built.

The presentation on the economic impact on the project will be presented by economist Keivan Deravi of Auburn University at Montgomery.

Funding for the new ballpark would come from a hike the city’s hotel rate from 3 percent to 6.5 percent, generating $40 million for a new ballpark in the downtown Railroad Park area as well as a new hotel.

RELATED STORIES: Birmingham City Council: We support ballpark tax, but we want team first; Birmingham OKs initial ballpark funding plan; Birmingham to discuss downtown ballpark Monday; Downtown ballpark study underway in Birmingham; New ballpark pitched for downtown Birmingham

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