MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - An Arizona company has solicited investors to help complete a purchase of the Mobile BayBears minor league baseball team, with the hope of relocating them to Madison County. The details come from a confidential investment opportunity summary dated from early June, recently obtained by WHNT News 19.
The document says the company has met with leaders in Madison County as well as the City of Madison who have “expressed a willingness to construct a state-of-the-art ballpark within the largest mixed-use development in Alabama, slated to open for the 2019 season.”
Officials from the city, county, and development told us there wasn’t much they could say about the potential deal.
The head of the company in question, BallCorps, LLC, says the situation is “fluid.” He says some of the information in the internal document is not accurate, though he did not provide specifics. He says the company produced more than 10 versions of it.
The proposal in the document reviewed by WHNT News 19 says the ballpark would be in the Town Madison development. That’s the mixed-use development planned in the area of I-565 and Zierdt Road.
The document says that BallCorps has already entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with the owners of the Mobile BayBears. It says once that agreement is executed, the company will have exclusive rights to bring baseball to Madison County.
Ralph Nelson, Jr., the chief executive of BallCorps, told us the investment document, roughly 45 days old, is now dated. He writes, “It is true that we are attempting to obtain a minor league team, but I will not identify it, pursuant to baseball rules. As far as a stadium site, we are considering a half dozen in three states, including its current location.”
That fits with the investment document. The Huntsvillle area, which is how the investment summary describes the location, headlines the pitch to investors, though the document acknowledges BallCorps is looking at Savannah, Georgia and Baton Rouge, Louisiana as backup sites.
The document says, “BallCorps has entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) to acquire the only Double-A team that league officials will agree to move, and engaged in conversations with multiple municipalities that have indicated they would build a new ballpark upon BallCorps’ commitment to relocate the team.”
However, the BayBears belong to the Southern League, and President of the Southern League Lori Webb told WHNT News 19 that the BayBears did not currently have permission to move markets. She would not say more about the potential sale besides, "This is a private business matter, and I will not and cannot discuss it publicly at this time."
Nelson told WHNT News 19 the decision to move would not be made before their application to purchase a team was ruled on. He notes, “Even if our application is approved, baseball requires an extensive relocation process and additional approvals.”
Nelson says the company has not begun the totally separate process of relocating the team.
We have been unable to reach the current owners of the Mobile BayBears.
The city of Mobile has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the current BayBears ballpark, making new investments for improvements as recently as this year. Mobile City Councilman John Williams says the city has a contract with the BayBears until March 2020. He told us he had no knowledge of any potential move.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents confirm BallCorps, LLC. has started looking for investors to amass $20 million in capital. The investment opportunity summary says that would be to move the Mobile BayBears to one of three cities, before aiming to sell the team again in five to six years.
An SEC filing says BallCorps had raised a little over $8 million as of July 13th from 33 different investors.
The investment summary says, “In recent meetings with Mayor Paul Finley of Madison, Dale Strong, the Chairman of the Madison County Commissioners and Louis Breland, the developer of the project, BallCorps has been assured that the ballpark is the critical key element of the development, that, as is consistent with similar developments recently opened in Indiana, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Nebraska and Oklahoma, a ballpark converts the overall development into a ‘destination.’”
We could not reach Madison County Commission Chair Dale Strong for comment.
A source within the Town Madison circle told us the developers would be open to a wide variety of potential users and any opportunities that would be supported by the community.
Madison Mayor Paul Finley told us there wasn’t much he could say.
The mayor did note, “Town Madison is going to need destination spots.”