With 80 percent of the land needed for a new Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) ballpark already acquired, the city of Birmingham says it’s on the verge of moving ahead with a new downtown facility.
The site, across from Railroad Park, will feature a new $50-million ballpark with 8,500 seats, 26 suites (20 sold under long-term leases, three daily-use suites, a team suite, a city suite and a suite going to the buyer of naming rights), a team store, team offices snd room for support activities. The team will pay $400,000 a year annually and split any naming-rights revenues with the city. The expected opening date for the ballpark is 2014.
At a time when Class AA ballparks are getting smaller — witness the new Pensacola Blue Wahoos ballpark in the same league — it almost seems like Birmingham is building something more appropriate for Class AAA. The Barons drew 4,180 fans a game last season at Regions Park; while everyone expects an attendance bump in a new ballpark, coming close to capacity may be a challenge.
RELATED STORIES: Birmingham ballpark situation more complicated than anticipated; Barons reach deal to play at new ballpark; Birmingham formally approves downtown ballpark; next up, the Barons; Birmingham approves new downtown ballpark, but second vote needed; New Birmingham ballpark could create $3.8 billion in economic activity: study; Birmingham City Council to vote on new ballpark next week; 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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