Mobile Sports & Entertainment Group (MSEG) is set to take over operations of Hank Aaron Stadium, as the Mobile City Council moved forward with an agreement Tuesday.
First opening in 1997, Hank Aaron Stadium was home to the Mobile BayBears (Class AA; Southern League) through the 2019 season, the franchise’s last in the city before relocating to Madison, AL and becoming the Rocket City Trash Pandas. Recently, Mobile officials have received several pitches for the ballpark’s future, including one from MSEG, a group that includes former BayBears executive Ari Rosenbaum. MSEG’s plan calls for using the ballpark for high school and college sports, as well as a variety of non-sporting events. That was among the most prominent proposals for Hank Aaron Stadium, as was a pitch from Tim Bennett‘s Kusche Sports Group that included plans for placing an independent Atlantic League team at the ballpark by 2021.
Ultimately, after some initial concerns with MSEG’s proposal were addressed, the Mobile City Council voted 7-0 Tuesday to move forward with an agreement. As part of that agreement, MSEG will assume the remainder of the lease with BayBears/Trash Pandas’ ownership, which runs through March 31, 2022, while covering utility expenses, major upgrades, and annual rent. More from AL.com:
“We thought we’d be probably right there with the vote, maybe 5-2 vote,” said John Hilliard, vice-president of sales and marketing and a co-founder of MSEG. “A 7-0 vote (with) everyone in agreement, it was the right thing to do for the city and we are all very, very happy.”…
As recent as last week’s council meeting, some council members said they were hesitant toward supporting the MSEG plan over concerns about the group’s initial proposal. Among them was Councilman Fred Richardson, who said he was worried about the contract’s initial language that referenced the demolition of the stadium.
The language was removed from the MSEG contract, and Richardson said he was satisfied.
“I told them upfront that I would not vote for any contract that was interested in demolishing the stadium,” he said. “It took them a while but they took the clause out. The demolition clause was removed. And I was also concerned about upkeep … but it’s in the contract that they will perform the upkeep on the building. I was satisfied when we got those clauses fixed.”
Baseball at the high-school and college levels will be part of MSEG’s mix of events at Hank Aaron Stadium, along with offerings such as concerts, festivals, light shows in the ballpark’s parking lot, and more.
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