In a significant step toward their planned move, the Mobile BayBears have received approval from the Class AA Southern League to relocate to Madison, AL.
Madison and BallCorps, LLC–the ownership group that purchased the BayBears last year–have been discussing plans for a new ballpark at the Town Madison development. The two sides have made progress in the effort, working with the intention of opening the ballpark in time for the 2020 season.
BallCorps managing partner Ralph Nelson says that the Class AA Southern League has signed off on the move to Madison. Other steps remain in the ongoing effort to relocate to Madison, but the Southern League’s approval means that the BayBears have cleared a major hurdle. More from WHNT:
Ralph Nelson, Managing Partner of Ballcorps, LLC, which owns the team, confirmed Tuesday that the Southern League unanimously approved its relocation from Mobile to Madison.
This is a crucial first step to getting minor league baseball back to the Tennessee Valley.
Tuesday, Nelson said there are still two more steps before relocation can be official. Now, they have to get approval from minor league baseball. They also need what’s called a non-objection letter from Major League Baseball. Nelson said he is confident in the process, especially since the Southern League has moved forward.
The concept in Madison calls for a 7,000-capacity ballpark that is expected to offer numerous features, including a kids’ 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 previously agreed to terms on a 30-year lease, management, and license agreement. The BayBears are expected to remain at Mobile’s Hank Aaron Stadium–their home since 1997–through the 2019 season.
Madison is located in the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, meaning that the BayBears’ move would fill a years-long void of professional baseball in the region. The last professional club to call the Huntsville Metropolitan Area home was the Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League), who played their final full season at Joe W. Davis Stadium in 2014. That franchise is now known as the Biloxi Shuckers.
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