Madison learning more about what it would take to bring baseball and a new stadium

MADISON, Ala. - The Madison City Council will soon make a tough decision about a possible ballpark.

Leaders are learning more about what it would look like and how much it could cost, as they consider a lease, license, and management agreement with the Mobile BayBears owner, BallCorps, LLC.

The Agreement

For BallCorps to earn approval from the Southern League, Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball to relocate the team, it must first have an agreement with Madison to build the stadium. The company would lease it.

The agreement is not yet signed, but a preliminary version reveals more about the ballpark project. Through reading it, we have learned the following:

  • The city would spend $46 million from bond money to construct the stadium (a multi-purpose venue that could also host concerts and other events)
  • The lease would run for 30 years, with renewal options
  • BallCorps would move its corporate offices there and act as the stadium manager, operating concessions etc.
  • The City of Madison and BallCorps would share parking revenue
  • The lease is expected to generate at least $1 million per year in revenue to the city of Madison
  • BallCorps and the city would create a committee to plan and recommend maintenance to the venue to keep it running

If the agreement is approved, the following would have to happen:

  • Madison would get ownership of the stadium land from the developer and have that land released from the Town Madison Cooperative District, as a donation
  • The Southern League, MiLB, and MLB would need to approve relocation of the team
  • A court order would need to be issued to validate the deal and the bond funding
  • Construction bidding and planning
  • Approval of a separate development agreement with Town Madison

Feasibility

The city continues to work on finding out whether it is feasible for Madison to support a team.

Monday, the council learned some figures from a consultant, which could put the city on a path toward officially landing the team.

A consultant said the stadium Madison should build if it chooses to continue with the project should have a 6,000 seat capacity:

  • 4,800 fixed seats including general admission, 500 club seats, executive club seating
  • 1,000 Berm seating
  • 2 party decks with 100 capacity each

The consultants said this recommendation would minimize capital and operating costs while accommodating market demand, the council heard in a presentation.

After 5 years to get started, the consultants expect a Madison ballpark to draw 330,700 people per year and nearly 4,500 people per game.

The consultants used other leagues and cities of a similar size to Madison to make their assessment. They believe that strong market wealth and limited in-market competition can be good for Madison.

What's Next To Figure Out

The agreement had its first reading and a public hearing on Monday. That is the first step in moving forward with earning the team.

Now that the ballpark is designated to cost $46 million or less, the city can get to work on determining the rest of the numbers. Mayor Paul Finley said they still need an architect's design for a stadium that is feasible.

They also need to analyze the consultants' data to determine how the city will pay its $46 million bond payment.

"The feasibility study gave us an understanding of how many people we can expect. Now we have to put all that together and get real world numbers to understand, can we make that happen?" said Finley.

If the council passes the agreement, it would mean $1 million guaranteed coming to the city per year. He expects the city could earn more than that though.

"That is our baseline," he said. "Now we have a better understanding from our feasibility study of how many people may come, especially 6 years out, we can tie that together with different funding sources and get a better idea of how much more than $1 million we can expect per year."

Finley expects several factors to go into how much more revenue the city can make from a stadium like this:

  • Lodging tax revenue + any new hotels that may come into Town Madison
  • The lease agreement revenue sources: rent, parking, naming rights, non-baseball revenue and sales tax.

"Council and mayor's main concern is not taking anything, or as little as we can, out of the general fund," said Finley. "We want to work as a partner with BallCorps and figure out how we, as a city, pay for a $46 million venue while they have minor league baseball there and help us with non-baseball events, and maximize what they want to make. It's a partnership."