Shelby County has agreed to Memphis’s purchase of AutoZone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), the final step toward a deal that also sees the St. Louis Cardinals buying the franchise.
The city and county each paid $4.25 million in 1998 for the land beneath the ballpark. The approval from the county commissioners extends the original 1998 deal with the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation to the city. Last week a county committee recommended to hold off on a final decision, but the full board of commissioners voted today to move ahead with the deal after John Pontius, treasurer of the foundation, warned that a delay could cause the Cardinals to bail out of the deal. The Cardinals already sweetened the terms of the Cardinals purchase and a new lease in order to gain approval from the Memphis City Council. The city will issue $24 million in bonds, which will cover both the purchase of the ballpark and improvements. The purchase of the ballpark from the facility’s bondholder, Fundamental Advisors, also clears the way for the Cardinals to purchase the Redbirds for an undisclosed figure (we’re told $16 million) and committing the team to $5 million in ballpark improvements under a 17-year lease.
RELATED STORIES: Memphis approves purchase of AutoZone Park; Decision on AutoZone Park purchase delayed by Memphis; 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: Pontius; Memphis looking at buying AutoZone Park; Weiss, Global Spectrum take full reins of Memphis Redbirds tonight
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