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Redbirds still on the market entering 2013

AutoZone Park

The Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) are still for sale, according to officials with the Memphis Redbirds Foundation, as the front office preps for the 2013 season with little changing from past years.

The Redbirds went from being one of MiLB’s big success stories to a team mired in debt, with the team and bonds to AutoZone Park sold for $24 million to Fundamental Advisors, a firm specializing in buying distressed debt.

It’s no secret there was an increased interest in the team from potential buyers at the end of 2012; we hear the St. Louis Cardinals, an existing International League ownership group and a Class A owner were interested enough to take meetings and review the books. At the end of the day, someone is going to need to take a bath on the team’s debt, estimated to be $60 million.

But no one has pulled the trigger. Which is a shame: AutoZone Park remains one of the crown jewels of Minor League Baseball ballparks, and Memphis is a great market. So it’s no surprise there’s continued interest in the team. From the Commercial-Appeal:

“(The debt) is growing, not diminishing, because we’re paying less than scheduled payments,” [Memphis Redbirds Foundation treasurer John] Pontius said. “The annual interest is probably greater than the payments we’re making.”

Pontius said he still has prospective buyers, which he carefully screens before presenting them to the bondholders.

“When they start talking to the bondholders, I’m not always a part of that conversation,” Pontius said. “Sometimes, I’ll get my hopes up that something is working toward a conclusion, but the bondholders rightfully are proud of what they own. It’s a team that’s operating well today.”

RELATED STORIES: Status quo reigns in Memphis; Talk of AutoZone Park sale premature: PontiusMemphis looking at buying AutoZone Park; Weiss, Global Spectrum take full reins of Memphis Redbirds tonight


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