MADISON, Ala. - The Madison City Council took its next step toward welcoming a Minor League baseball team on Monday night. The city council unanimously passed a vote considering a lease, licensing, and management agreement with BallCorps LLC for a stadium.
For the team ownership to get permission to move the Mobile BayBears to Madison an agreement had to be reached about the stadium or multi-use venue. It is important to note that council members say this does not commit them to building a stadium just yet.
Instead, it finalizes the terms for managing that stadium should it be built:
- The city will build it not to exceed $46 million
- BallCorps would sign a 30-year lease
- The city's bond payment to pay for it would be around $3 million per year
- The city would earn $1 million or more in rent and funding from the team for the term of the lease
- There are other opportunities for the city to earn money on this, too: naming rights, parking, rent, sales tax, lodging tax, and non-baseball events that take place at the stadium venue
- BallCorps will staff 20-25 people at the venue
- This includes a Capital Maintenance Fund to pay for stadium improvements as the building ages
- BallCorps will move its headquarters to Madison as a result of this deal. This would mean the team would have local ownership, if team relocation is approved.
The venue is also hailed as a benefit to the community at large
Leaders said that if the stadium is built, the city's schools and roads would benefit immediately through tax revenue. Those numbers can not be abated as incentives to a developer.
The city will still borrow $15-17 million in bond funds for road improvements and other infrastructure that is needed as a result of its ongoing Transportation Study. They held a work session on Monday following the baseball vote about how to use those funds, and discussions will continue next month.
Mayor Paul Finley said a stadium would jump-start Town Madison and make it a destination. He said a feasibility study shows that baseball can work at Town Madison.
Council members defended their vote Monday.
Maura Wroblewski said the community input was valuable, and she believes the venue will be a "fabulous opportunity."
Tommy Overcash, Council President, said the council did its due diligence. It has been conservative in how it crunches the numbers and will look forward to seeing how they line up to reap a reward from this venture.
Greg Shaw said that it is a risk, but an educated one that can lead to reward. He said now is the time to move forward to see how they can use this venue to move Madison forward in the long-game.
John Seifert said he expects to see this venue make Madison greater and ignite economic development in the region. He said more commercial sales tax is needed to keep Madison afloat.
Steve Smith said he can see the stadium bringing value to Madison, and he is making his best effort to move forward.
The venue would be in Teddy Powell's district. He said that his vote was in an effort to make the best decision now for the city in the future.
The votes means Madison is one step closer to bringing minor league baseball to Town Madison.
Mayor Finley outlined the steps that need to take place next.
For the stadium to be finalized, the development agreement needs to pass through the Madison City Council. That would include the stadium property, which needs to be released from the Town Madison Cooperative District and will be donated to the city. The developer will also work with the city on funding a parking lot for the venue.
The stadium design must also be finalized. Finley said the city has a design back from an architect, but they are now value-engineering it to bring down the cost and make it more affordable for the city. Madison cannot and will not spend more than $46 million for the venue, Finley said.
They also need to get some more information back through the rest of the feasibility study.
A meeting in two weeks will bring this information to light. Then, the city council has another big decision to make.
"If it doesn't work, then two weeks from now the council will not have numbers that make them happy. We, in turn, will not be able to finalize this," Finley stated.
BallCorps, LLC (owner of the Mobile BayBears) and Breland Companies (the Town Madison developer) had no comment when we asked for a statement from each on Monday.
For the team to be officially relocated, Minor League Baseball, Major League Baseball, and the Southern League would need to approve.
Meanwhile, city leaders are still trying to determine if the numbers line up. Monday's vote means a step further into negotiations and the baseball conversation. The next series of votes will be on February 12.