Talk of selling AutoZone Park to the city of Memphis was premature, as the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation is exploring several liquidation options, according to treasurer John Pontius.
Two weeks ago the news broke that the city was reviewing a proposal to buy the home of the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). Pontuis says that while accurate, the account was a little premature: a sale of the ballpark to the city is but one of several scenarios being considered by the foundation and its lenders. One alternative scenario: that both the ballpark and the team will be sold to the same buyer.
There’s always been a desire — both from the foundation’s standpoint and the city’s — to make sure we concluded the final chapter of the Redbirds’ financial story that gave it new, positive, long-term life for the city. That’s what we’ve been working on for a few years. We’re closer to a conclusion, a recapitalization, a sale, or something that repositions the Redbirds for a prosperous future in Memphis. But it’s premature to speculate on which of those options will come about, and when….
There are two primary assets of the Redbirds Foundation. They could be sold separately or together, and it really depends on the buyer. Would a franchise owner want to own the ballpark too, or be a tenant in the ballpark? We’re deep in the throes of understanding the options, but we’re not [at a point of sale] yet.
The challenge, he added, was to put together a deal that satisfies a potential buyer and the holder of the foundation bonds: no doubt investor Fundamental Advisors would need to take a haircut on any deal, so the real issue may be how close a haircut. However, that’s the risk that the likes of a Fundamental Advisors — which specializes in distressed properties — takes.
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