MADISON, Ala. - Negotiations continue on multiple agreements that relate to the multi-use venue that would include a minor league baseball stadium in Madison.
The city of Madison has been working alongside developer, Louis Breland, and a team owner, BallCorps LLC, to come to an agreement on cost. BallCorps' owner, Ralph Nelson, has been in town recently as part of the negotiations.
Friday, WHNT News 19 learned that two key agreements the city council was expecting to come up for a vote on Monday have been pulled from the agenda. The agreements are not yet final for the council to vote on The Town Madison Funding Agreement or the Stadium Funding Agreement.
City officials say all parties, including the developer and the city, have yet to agree during negotiations. Everyone must be comfortable with costs before moving forward.
City council members say the stadium project is still moving forward, but this means its timeline has changed. Mayor Paul Finley has said the city needs to find a way to build a stadium they can afford that would cost $46 million or less.
Mayor Paul Finley said Friday in a statement:
“We are going through the process to negotiate terms, therefore the Town Madison Funding Agreement & Stadium Funding Agreements will not be on the February 12th Council meeting agenda. I will work to communicate everything we possibly can to our citizens looking for proper information. Our goal has always been to disclose the information in all agreements. We simply have not finalized negotiations and thus, don’t have anything ready to share."
Finley later told WHNT News 19 that they have gotten closer to value-engineering a stadium to the $46 million price point Madison needs, but the deal still needed to be buttoned-up contractually as of Friday. He said the Town Madison agreement was still in negotiation to explore multiple funding pieces.
Council president, Tommy Overcash, tells us they're on track with the project and other milestones are still being met, despite the two agreements being pulled from the agenda for Monday's meeting. He said that the city is still working with Ballcorps and that things are "very positive and moving forward."
There are still some stadium-related items on Monday's agenda, though. The council will hear a presentation about the market analysis and what research the city has gotten back about the feasibility of the project. Mayor Paul Finley still plans to give an update on Monday as to where the process stands, and there are some other votes to approve payment for a design firm and a legal first-reading of a warrant validation for the project. These are smaller steps toward the goal of bringing a multi-purpose venue to Madison.
WHNT News 19 is following this story closely and will report more about what's next when we learn more.
Meanwhile, concerned citizens say they're happy for the delay in council votes on the two agreements and looking forward to hearing the presentations on Monday.
"I'm hoping that we get to see the data and that there's a good exchange between the city and the residents about how the project will benefit. If, in fact it does," said Michael Callahan of Madison. "I want to see how it will affect the long-term health of the city.
Callahan said he'd like to see Madison tread lightly and carefully when signing any agreement with a developer. He hopes the extra time can help the city do that, and give its people time to be informed.
"Hopefully, this will help people be involved and go and ask the right questions," he said.