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Madison delays release of baseball stadium lease agreement to public, says it’s still negotiating $86 million in deals for team

MADISON, Ala. -- Madison announced last week that the city had a deal with BallCorps to bring a minor league baseball team to the city and to build a muti-use stadium at Town Madison for the team and other events.

It’s a finalized agreement the City of Madison says, but they are declining to release it publicly, saying they want to respect the confidentiality of team owner BallCorps’ review by Major League and Minor League Baseball.

WHNT News 19 has filed a formal open records request to Madison for the agreement, which we believe is subject to the Alabama Open Records Law.

Mayor Paul Finley today told WHNT News 19 he agrees the deal should be released, but it’s not ready yet, because related deals are still being negotiated.

Over the past month, the city sketched out the broad outlines for bringing baseball to Madison: they want to spend no more than $46 million to build the stadium – which will hold up to 7,500 people – and BallCorps agrees to a 30-year lease.

Finley says the deal wouldn't work unless the city works out an agreement with Town Madison developer Louis Breland to provide infrastructure, a parking lot and an interchange to the property, an overall deal valued at an estimated $40 million. Town Madison is situated in Madison off I-565, and had been owned by Intergraph Corp.

"The agreement with BallCorps is solidified, we now take that agreement and move towards the development agreement with the developer and for Town Madison proper," Finley said.  "So, the infrastructure that is needed to support it, plus the agreement with the developer are the components. If we aren’t successful with those, then the lease agreement is null and void."

Finley said he expects to bring both agreements, the lease and the development deal to the Madison City Council on Feb. 26. And, he says when those deals are finalized, they’ll be released to the public.

Currently, Madison anticipates paying about $3 million every year in debt service to pay back the $46 million they’d borrow for the stadium.

Finley said revenue from the stadium, including lease payments from BallCorps, shared parking, naming rights and concessions, will help them make that annual debt payment.

"Minimum of  $1 million from BallCorps, we’ve disclosed that from the lease agreement," Finley said, though he expects it to be more.

Madison will also use revenue from its lodging tax – which they hope will grow substantially if new hotels move to the Town Madison site.

"And then lastly, there’s a subsidy from the developer -- part of why right now we’re in negotiations, what does that need to be, how will that be taken care of, how long does it need to be in place," Finley said.

Finley said they are also negotiating with developer Breland on the terms for the I-565 interchange and infrastructure for the stadium. The negotiation is expected to include a subsidy payment by Breland, worth about $400,000 annually, the city says, that could be used to help pay off the debt.

The deal with Breland could lead to him being paid tens of millions of dollars in Madison tax revenue if the Town Madison development thrives.

Breland has previously agreed to build an interchange to the property, and the city would pay him back about $22 million from sales and property tax revenue generated at Town Madison.

The current negotiations are about updating that deal, Finley said Thursday, with Breland providing infrastructure at the property to accommodate the stadium. Finley said that figure could add about $18 million more to the repayment to Breland, for a total of about $40 million in sales and property tax revenue to the developer.

Finley said they are negotiating terms, and that the city’s position is Breland won’t make money without Town Madison taking off. So, he’s bearing the risk for the infrastructure and Madison is bearing the risks of the stadium costs.

At last week’s announcement of the baseball deal, Finley said they hope to have the stadium completed by December 2019 and opening day for baseball in April 2020.

The city issued a statement to WHNT News 19, on the decision not to provide the lease agreement:

"Out of respect for both the Southern League and Minor League Baseball organizations, which are both engaged in a confidential review process of the document, the City is withholding the License Agreement from full disclosure to the media for now. The City will share the full agreement at the appropriate time, and the City has disclosed all of the major terms of the agreement in multiple public meetings, as well as the ordinance authorizing the agreement itself. Our delay is not a denial, but certain terms of the Agreement are still open and pending final resolution.”