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Barons ballpark plan moves forward, adds Negro Leagues museum to mix

Birmingham BaronsBirmingham Mayor William Bell wants to put the framework of a proposed Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) ballpark to a vote tomorrow — something unlikely to happen — and has restored a Negro Leagues museum to the project.

The ballpark plan has moved forward by fits and starts since first proposed by Bell; ironically, the funding plan for a new downtown ballpark, a lodgings tax, was easily passed by the City Council months ago and is already generating some serious revenues for the project. The holdup now: Bell’s office has been slow in preparing an actual ballpark plan, complete with land acquisitions, to the City Council. The Barons are on board with the project, most of the land has been acquired, and councilmembers are eager to see what Bell has in mind.

And while Bell has been meeting with individual councilmembers to brief them on the ballpark plan, there are still a few holes to be addressed. First, two land parcels envisioned for the site still need to be acquired with the help of University of Alabama-Birmingham. Bell has said eminent domain may be needed to acquire the land — something that may not play well among councilmembers — so you can expect some intense discussions this week. Bell also wants the council to act on a ballpark proposed during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting, but with no discussion or deliberations on the specifics, that’s unlikely to happen.

One bit of good news: a Negro Leagues museum once slated to be part of Rickwood Field is now back in the mix as part of the new Barons ballpark as a standalone building.

RELATED STORIES: Birmingham: We’re close to finalizing ballpark plan; 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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