Mobile city leaders aren’t giving up the BayBears without a fight

MADISON, Ala. - It is just the first inning of what may be a long game to get the BayBears to Madison, but for the first time in this whole process, the City of Mobile says they want a swing at keeping the team.

In July, WHNT News 19 was the first to tell you about a potential deal to relocate the Mobile BayBears Minor League baseball team to the City of Madison.

City leaders in both Mobile and Madison have stayed silent on the issue, until now.

Mobile Speaks Out 

"Until it is a done deal, I hope the City of Mobile is in play and we will make our pitch to the new owner, whoever it may be," said Mobile Mayor, Sandy Stimpson.

On Tuesday, Mobile's mayor did all he could to assure his city that there's no signed contract saying the team has been sold, or that the BayBears will be relocating.

While that's technically true, WHNT News 19 obtained a confidential document over the summer, showing the potential new owner is interested in moving the team to Madison.

The Deputy Director of Communication for Mobile`s mayor, Laura Byrne, insisted that nothing is official yet. "There is no contract to either sell or move the BayBears team at this point."

No contract to sell, but sources close to the deal tell WHNT News 19 the sale only needs to tag one more base to move forward with Ballcorps LLC taking over ownership.

Then comes the matter of location. Byrne said they want to be considered and nothing is off the table at this point.

If a new stadium becomes a stipulation of the BayBears potentially staying in Mobile, would that be something the City would continue? "Our overall goal is for the Baybears to stay in Mobile," explained Byrne. "We'll work as well as we can with the current owner, or the new owner to find a happy medium to figure out a way that it can be successful here."

If the BayBears to choose Madison, they'll face a financial penalty for leaving the stadium lease early. "If they were to leave in say, 2019, they'd pay about $380,000 in penalty fees."

In the meantime, the City of Mobile will root, root, root for the home team to stay. "We will go forward along that pathway until we find out we are no longer in the hunt," said Mayor Stimpson.

WHNT News 19 reached out to Madison Mayor Paul Finley and representatives of Town Madison where the new stadium may be located, but neither returned our calls.

Town Madison is slated for rezoning next month and that would allow the development to have a mixed-use facility similar to a baseball stadium.

Mixed Reaction in Madison

All of this comes as there is discussion on both sides on whether or not Madison needs a new minor league team in the first place.

Much like calling a ball game, opinions on whether or not Madison needs a Minor League team fall both as strikes and base hits.

Parents who were out for a night of little league softball in Palmer Park had mixed feelings. Some said that they will definitely enjoy it if the BayBears move to Madison, but for others, the idea wasn't a home run.

"It’s just not a big draw for me," says Robert Brown, a parent of a softball player.

"I know our family will definitely take part in it," says Wade Myhan, who's daughter is also on the team.