A major step toward a new Madison, AL ballpark for the relocating Mobile BayBears (Class AA; Southern League) was taken Monday, when officials approved a key infrastructure agreement.
Madison and BallCorps, LLC–the ownership group that purchased the BayBears last year–continue to work on a plan that calls for the construction of a new ballpark at the Town Madison development, with the facility slated to open in 2020. For the city, one of the key tasks that has been remaining is the approval of an infrastructure agreement with the Town Madison developer.
Details on that plan were released last week, and the Madison City Council approved the agreement on Monday. While other steps–including formal league approval for the BayBears to relocate–remain in the offing, this is being billed as a major step by Madison to move closer to making the proposed ballpark a reality. More from WHNT:
The agreement approved Monday would bring [Louis] Breland, the Town Madison developer’s, commitment up to $40 million to fund an I-565 interchange along with an access road to a stadium and other key infrastructure. The city agreed to pay that sum back, with interest, using new tax dollars from Town Madison.
While BallCorps, LLC, which owns the Mobile Baybears, still needs to earn relocation approval from the Southern League, Minor League Baseball, and Major League Baseball, Madison leaders believe Monday’s step is crucial.
“We have a commitment from the Ballcorps to come, we have a venue that can put them in place (which we have shown can be funded) and now we have an interchange that can help get everybody there. This means baseball is coming,” said Mayor Paul Finley. “This now allows for us to have everything in place. We are looking forward to having minor league baseball supporting our multi-use venue with a full interchange ready to have baseball season open in April 2020.”
The new 7,000-capacity Madison ballpark is expected to offer numerous features, including a kid’s zone, indoor and outdoor suite seating, and an open concourse. Madison has set a $46 million budget for the ballpark, and intends for the facility to host other events.
The city and BallCorps have come to terms on a 30-year lease, management, and license agreement. Under the current plan, the BayBears would begin play at the new ballpark when it opens in 2020, while spending the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Mobile’s Hank Aaron Stadium. Madison is located in the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, which has not had a professional baseball team of its own since the Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League) played their final full season at Joe W. Davis Stadium in 2014.
Rendering courtesy Populous and City of Madison.
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