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Baton Rouge MiLB as part of larger development?

Baton Rouge is considering a development of its Memorial Stadium sports complex that could yield a new professional baseball ballpark and a rightsized football stadium for USL soccer.

A developer has been working with city leaders and current Memorial Stadium sports complex on a plan to overhaul the area, which would include a renovated Memorial Stadium, a possible youth-sports complex and more. From the Advocate:

“Baton Rouge is an underserved market for sports facilities,” said Roy Alston, executive director of Five Points Community Capital, a firm based in Austin, Texas, that provides financing for community developments. “Memorial Stadium has a great story, and we want to really bring that strong community asset back to life.”

BREC, which as East Baton Rouge Parish’s recreation agency owns the stadium, and Sports Facility Companies, a Florida firm that operates recreational, entertainment and fitness centers across the U.S., are partners in the redevelopment, Alston said. Sports Facilities manages the Hoover (Alabama) Met Complex, which annually hosts the SEC Baseball Tournament, and the 100,000-square-foot West Monroe Sports & Events indoor complex.

“Professional soccer and baseball teams in Baton Rouge would be a wonderful opportunity that aligns with my vision of bringing diverse entertainment and sports options to our residents and visitors,” [Mayor-President Sharon] Broome said in a statement.

So far we don’t know of any specific involvement from any MiLB leagues or teams, though in the past Nolan Ryan/Ryan Sanders Baseball and Mandalay Baseball Properties (a blast from the past!) worked to bring affiliated baseball to the area. On the soccer side, a renovated Memorial Stadium is pitched as home of a new USL League One team. And, apart from sports, there are some potential other uses for the site, including a new Amtrak station.

Indeed, the participation of Sports Facility Companies would suggest that while the mayor would love to see pro baseball at the site, it’s not essential. The Hoover Met Complex is best known today as home to the SEC baseball tournament and as the former home of the Birmingham Barons (Double-A; Southern League), but its economic model these days as a youth-sports facility that includes plenty of youth baseball, tennis and swimming tournaments, complete with a hotel on site.

Photo of Memorial Stadium courtesy BREC.

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