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Fayetteville Agrees to Move Forward with MOU

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In a routine but still important step, the Fayetteville City Council voted to move forward on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Houston Astros for a new downtown ballpark. 

An MOU is common in ballpark planning process, as it can provide both sides with a basic framework as it moves towards a longer-term agreement. Fayetteville is notable in that is council voted unanimously in favor of moving forward with the MOU, showing an early willingness to complete a ballpark for a High-A Carolina League franchise.

While more details should emerge over the coming weeks, there are some interesting particulars being discussed on the proposed downtown ballpark. Using the Columbia Fireflies’ (Low A; Sally League) Spirit Communications Park as a model, Fayetteville wants to work with the Astros on a private/public partnership for a $46.9 million facility on the former site of the Prince Charles Hotel.

The vote to move forward with the MOU was conducted in closed session, but city officials publicly expressed their pleasure with the council’s unity on the decision. More from the Fayetteville Observer:

“There was unanimous support to move forward on the memorandum of understanding with the Houston Astros,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin after Tuesday’s closed session meeting at City Hall. “And to develop various financial partners, community partners, which will provide viable fiscal support to the stadium.”

The Astros want to bring a Class A-Advanced ball club to North Carolina. The Major League franchise also set an Aug. 18 deadline to draft the memorandum, laying out the basic terms between itself and the city.

If a memorandum is reached, Fayetteville and the Astros would spend the next few months finalizing a stadium lease and other contracts.

Colvin didn’t go into detail about the memorandum, but said specifics could be released at a a later date.

As an aside, it should be noted that Fayetteville is very high on the Columbia model. The city has already enlisted Fireflies owner Jason Freier–who, with Hardball Capital also owns the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low A; Midwest League) and Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League)–and officials will be visiting Spirit Communications Park later this month. Spirit Communications Park is being touted for its potential role as a catlyst for Columbia’s Bull Street development.

RELATED STORIES: Freier to Represent Fayetteville in New Ballpark TalksNext Step for New Fayetteville Ballpark: Crunching the Numbers; Decision for Fayetteville: How Much to Spend on New Ballpark; Fayetteville, Astros On Path to Discuss New Ballpark; Study: MiLB, Carolina League Feasible in Fayetteville; Fayetteville MiLB Ballpark Site Pitched; Astros, Rangers Exploring Carolina League Teams; Fayetteville makes it official: Downtown ballpark proposed; Fayetteville/MiLB match surfaces again; Cal/Carolina League shift back in play?

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