The Missoula City Council is buying Ogren Park at Allegiance Field, the home of the Missoula Osprey (rookie; Pioneer League) for $3.55 million, bailing out the nonprofit Play Ball Missoula and providing a solid base for the ballpark’s future.
The city is using $2 million in city redevelopment funds and issuing $1.55 million in new bonds to buy the ballpark — quite a discount from the original construction price — and entering into a new lease with Mountain Baseball (the Osprey owners) to lease the ballpark for $120,000 annually, a payment that should cover debt service. It’s a complicated financial maneuver that involves paying down about $5 million in secured debt using the city funds, with local banks retiring Play Ball Missoula debt in exchange for the privilege of issuing the bonds. The move also avoids any potential foreclosure on the ballpark.
Play Ball Missoula spent years getting the ballpark built, fighting financial issues to raise construction costs and acquiring some blighted land on the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula; it was a multi-year project that looked to be dead several times. But the group saved baseball in Missoula — no way the N.A. and the Pioneer League was going to let the team stay at a very basic Legion facility — and it gave the team a chance to get established in a more central location. Alas, the money raised by Play Ball Missoula is close to gone, so the group is selling the ballpark to the city.
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