MADISON, Ala. - When it comes to the anchor of Town Madison, Mayor Paul Finley says they've had their eye on one thing: baseball.
"It's our best option right now and the one that's in the hand," said Finley.
We asked Mayor Finley about the what ifs. What if baseball doesn't come to town Madison? Is there a plan b? "If it doesn't happen for whatever reason, ya know, plan b is just to continue to churn and find whatever we can for that next right spot," said Finley.
What are the options? "I wouldn't even have an understanding of what the next one would be because we've been working so hard on this one."
He says they've put all of their energy into baseball, and are fairly confident it's going to work out. "We see this as something that is a destination spot for our community and the great thing about those people coming, other businesses follow and then we can see Town Madison building out where we all want it to happen. Look at Madison Hospital, look at what happened with the Target Center. When those two came, everything else started filling out.
Mayor Finley believes the same thing will spark from a new stadium.
"Multiple ways that it benefits our city, it's not just prestige. It's truly economic development."
But now it's a race against the clock for the city of Madison as city leaders push through the final stretch in hopes of hitting a home run.
"I'm so excited with the opportunities that we have that truly define Madison to the next level."
But with everything comes a price and this one is rather hefty. Mayor Paul Finley and the Madison City Council are working to keep within budget.
Right now, they're hoping to keep the stadium itself in at $46 million. That facility would be paid for over time by the lodging tax. The city will also be on the line to pay back the developer another $40 million over a 20 year period to help build interchange ramps leading to Town Madison. The developer will be paid through sales and property taxes earned at that location. "Council has made sure that this is worst case a break even, best case making money for the city," said Finley.
Their focus is keeping the stadium at or under budget. Mayor Finley says early renderings show the stadium looking to be more that $46 million. For the next two weeks they're working to make cuts while trying to provide the seats the baseball owners want.
At this point, they're not sweating the small stuff, but say there are three big key factors in making this deal go through. "First, is it going to be way more than $46 million, which is just not going to be what we committed to. Secondly, we have to finalize the Town Madison funding agreement. Make sure it's 20 years, get the right interest rate," said Finley. "Lastly, working with the developer. If for whatever reason those things don't work the way we think it will, that might change."
But as of Tuesday, "We have every confidence we will be there. We have a lot of work to get done to get to that point."
Finley says if the project is a little over budget, there may be some other options, but not from the city. He says if all goes according to plan, they hope to make the official announcement on February 12.