The status of Hammons Field has been in some doubt since the death of John Q. Hammons and a subsequent bankruptcy of John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts, affecting both the Springfield Cardinals and Missouri State baseball. Under the proposal, the city would purchase the ballpark from the John Q. Hammons Charitable Trust for $12 million and execute a new lease with the Cardinals, keeping the team as a tenant through 2038.
In addition, the city would spend $4 million in improvements to meet MLB’s facility standards for MiLB teams.
The purchase agreement would include the ballpark and two parking lots adjacent to the ballpark. Money would come from the city’s General Fund and monies earmarked for “Economic Vitality” from the Level Property Tax Fund.
“We have the Double-A franchise of the most popular Major League team in the Midwest,” said Springfield Mayor Ken McClure via press release. “They add a vibrancy, excitement and level of entertainment as well as foster a great degree of community pride. Having a major league club own its minor league affiliate is very rare. We plan to be the home to the Springfield Cardinals for generations to come.”
“The St. Louis Cardinals have long enjoyed a strong relationship with the Springfield community, and we look forward to continuing it for many years to come,” said Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak via press release. “The Cardinals organization shares a special connection with Springfield and Southwest Missouri, and we cherish the enthusiastic support you have provided our team and players for nearly two decades.”
The purchase also clears up some legal loose ends and end the ballpark’s status in bankruptcy. Before the city involvement, the bankruptcy court ordered that the ballpark bonds be paid off and that the John Q. Hammons Charitable Trust (a new trust created to honor the Hamons) be required to acquire the ballpark in order to sell it.
Specifically, the City is purchasing is the charitable trust’s rights to obtain the 50-year ground lease and its right to purchase the ballpark and part of the land under the ballpark. Hammons Field is also the last thing pending in the City’s involvement in the Hammons’ bankruptcy. A separate settlement agreement resolves a disagreement between the Cardinals and Georgia-based Atrium Hospitality–held by JD Holdings LLC and owner-investor Jonathan Eilian.
The Springfield City Council is slated to vote on the proposed purchase Feb. 6.