MADISON, Ala. - Wednesday, for the very first time, the City of Madison confirmed what WHNT News 19 has been reporting for nearly 6 months, that the city is actively working to relocate a minor league baseball team to the area.
Now that Major League Baseball has approved the sale, the city will have to determine if and how to build a new stadium, which begs the question, how do you build a stadium for a team you're not guaranteed to land?
There's a reason why you've heard the phrase "multi-purpose venue" so much.
Essentially, Mayor Finley said, they want a minor league team to come to Madison, but even if it doesn't, they still need a multi-purpose venue to hold events for the local community. Finley believes the facility can serve both.
“It’s the early stages of a lot of work that has to be done," said Madison Mayor Finley. “I think it’s exciting for us to be able to talk about the stages that we’re in, the fact that we can say that minor league baseball is a possibility in Madison and Madison County.”
The city has plenty of work to do to make that happen.
The first step will be to rezone Town Madison to allow for a stadium. Two public hearings will be held on that topic this month - Monday November 13th and Monday November 27th, but there won't be any finalized plans for nearby residents to look at.
“We would give them an understanding of what the scope would look like but again we’re in such early stages, we probably can’t tell them," says Finley.
While a detailed plan for the venue won't be released for some time, Finley says he expects the project will cost between $35-45 million, and will host a lot more than just baseball.
“If you’re looking to do a multi-use venue, one thing is critical is we need to have a place to house 300-500 people for a sit-down meal. We can’t do that in Madison right now," explains the Mayor.
That also gives the city some leeway.
“We’d love all of this to take place, but if for whatever reason that couldn't happen for any reason, we’d know a multi-use venue is something that was already being talked about before my administration got in," he says.
The biggest question we had for Mayor Finley - how will you pay for it? He believes naming rights for the venue could be a big help.
“There are multiple channels of income if you’re in the license agreement, as we’ve learned in trying to do some early investigations, that’s one of the main reasons so that’s where we start," says Finley.
Besides sales tax revenue from Town Madison, he and his team are looking at all funding options in hopes that the BayBears round third and call Madison home.
"We’re going to talk about what’s needed within the city, and hoping that if baseball is one of those pieces that can help fund it, then it’s going to be good for our citizens," he says.
Relocating a Team
While the city is working on their best sales pitch, Ballcorps L.L.C., the new owners of the BayBears pending the sale closing this week, will have to petition to relocate the team to Madison.
That decision will have to be approved by the Southern League, MiLB, and MLB, individually.