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Decision on AutoZone Park purchase delayed by Memphis

AutoZone Park

A sale of AutoZone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), to the city has been pushed back to Monday after objections from City Council members.

The main objection: the pace of the deal. After years of having the ballpark and the team on the market, the city and the St. Louis Cardinals — who would buy the Redbirds and enter a long-term lease at the ballpark — want the council to decide on a $20-million investment less than a week after receiving an information packet about the deal. Whether or not it’s a good deal isn’t the point; the lack of deliberation had several council members upset; hence the delay. On the other hand, the Cards and city officials say no general funds would be used to buy or manage the ballpark. From Memphis Flyer:

Cardinals and city officials openly referred to the deal as an “11th-hour” arrangement. Approval of the deal by the council would have set off a series of events to rush bonds on the stadium to the investment market. Many of those firms would begin to close their books on the year as the Christmas holiday approached.

Council member Janis Fullilove was frustrated by the timeline and unloaded a tirade when she was told the deal must be done Tuesday night.

“You waited until the 11th hour and now the pressure is placed on us,” Fullilove said. “Now, you say we have to approve this or it will flitter away and they’ll sell off the stadium piece by piece with the scoreboard going first.”

Under the terms of the deal, the city would spend $20 million to buy AutoZone Park and spend $5 million more on upgrades. The Cardinals would buy the Redbirds and commit $15 million more in ballpark upgrades. Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation would be totally out of the baseball business.

RELATED STORIES: Memphis offers $20 million for AutoZone Park; city, Cards to pay $20M for upgrades; Cardinals to buy Redbirds, city to buy AutoZone Park; Redbirds still on market entering 2013; 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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