New baseball stadium not in the cards for Coca-Cola bottling plant site, mixed-use development planned

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A new downtown baseball stadium has struck out, at least at the old Coca-Cola bottling plant site.

The Clinton Avenue location was long thought, and in some cases hoped, to be the top spot for a new ballpark, but new details have surfaced that could bench those rumors.

"It seems unlikely that that site would be redeveloped to include a ballpark," said Downtown Huntsville Inc., CEO Chad Emerson. "Hopefully it will be redeveloped to include a mixed-use project that has very compatible uses with the Von Braun Center."

The talk of a stadium at this site stemmed from a rumored buyer, who also helped develop Regions Field in downtown Birmingham.

New concepts for the old plant feature a mixed-use development, but the specifics are still unknown.

Emerson says the change-up stems from the uncertainty surrounding the future of the city's baseball team.

"The Stars haven't left and frankly no one really knows when they're leaving and so until that's really decided, it's hard to take a next stop forward."

The 2015 Southern League schedule says the Stars will be playing in Biloxi, but according to WLOX, the new stadium there will not be complete until next August.

"If they come back to Huntsville, part or all the season, then that obviously changes the dynamic," said Emerson. "The key with the Coke site is to get it redeveloped in a way that enhances downtown. It's an important gateway and that just may mean you can't wait for the ballpark discussion to happen there."

A downtown stadium is not out of the question for the Rocket City, just not at the corner of Clinton and Monroe.

"While it would be nice to have it, we have so many assets here in downtown Huntsville that it's not something we have to have right away," said Emerson.

Ultimately the potential plans are up to the current property owner and future owner.

Big Springs Inc. closed the bottling plant in mid-2012, citing rising production costs.

The company is nearly done with its demolition of the site. It reportedly has a buyer for the nine acres, but it is under a confidentiality agreement.

Emerson says the biggest concern for the development site, though, isn't the who, but the when.

"The VBC, that's where a lot of people who come to Huntsville and come to the region, their first impression of the city is the Convention Center and the North and South Hall and the Concert Hall. You really don't want a barbed wire abandoned, you know, piece of gravel piece of property right across from that."

Demolition work at the old plant is expected to be done by the end of October.

The potential buyer then has 60 days to inspect the property and then move forward with the sale.

4 comments

  • Nuclear Mike

    “Hopefully it will be redeveloped to include a mixed-use project that has very compatible uses with the Von Braun Center”…which means what???
    “Mixed-use” implies many inside deals providing a select “few” with opportunities to leverage the politicians for more tax-free deals again.

    • Michael

      Could be a number of things. I’m hoping it at least includes a maybe restaurant/bar or two. It’d be nice to have a great place to walk across the street to and celebrate after a big win by the Havoc or Hammers.

  • Rick

    I’m almost certain the buyer will be the City of Huntsville… that land is prime location. I hope they include some coffee shops, casual lunch diners, and lease some slots out to some small start up food businesses… like to some of the food truck vendors! More people will want to come downtown and hang out.. I know I would.

  • Rick D

    I think they should put the new baseball stadium where the Madison Square Mall is. Destroy the Madison square mall and move it some where else and plant the stadium there. But when they do build the new stadium, they need to make it more proffessional like. Have restaruants, bars, and attractions to help make it a place to enjoy not only baseball, but other things as well. The stadium could be more rocket city related. I think it would bring a lot more people out for a nice night for baseball. It would definitly help the city grow and make the sport more attractive.

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