The city of Memphis is reviewing a pitch to buy AutoZone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), from the nonprofit foundation that owns it.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal is reporting that the city’s Housing and Community Development department has a proposal to buy the ballpark from the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation and the main holder of ballpark bonds, New York-based Fundamental Advisors. The foundation built the ballpark in 2000, issuing $72 million in bonds for the ballpark site (which includes the next-door office building) and the team. In 2009 Fundamental Advisors bought the bonds for $24 million after the foundation defaulted, which resulted in an overhaul of the Redbirds management and the hiring of Global Spectrum to manage the team and the ballpark.
No word on what Fundamental Advisors is looking for or what Memphis woud get out of ownership. But at least one city councilmember is skeptical:
“Number one, the Redbirds and AutoZone Park are very important to the city,” City Council budget committee chairman Jim Strickland said. “Number two, the city doesn’t have any extra money. It will be really important for me to review the details to be sure the lease payments cover the debt service and that the city is not obligated for the operating expenses. I’m skeptical because, are the debt service payments guaranteed by someone? I would assume this is a multi-million dollar deal. That’s an awful lot of lease payments.”
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