Monday, December 2, 2013

AutoZone Park, Crosstown up for Council Vote Tuesday

Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 1:50 PM

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  • From the Memphis Redbirds Facebook page

Two major decisions loom for the Memphis City Council on Tuesday as the body decides whether or not to buy AutoZone Park and to invest $15 million into the Crosstown Development Project.

Both issues will be heard during the council’s executive session at 1:15 p.m. in room 501 at Memphis City Hall. If the council approves the deals for a vote, they'll be heard again and get a final vote in the council chambers at 3:30 p.m. during the regular meeting of the full council.

The Memphis Redbirds Foundation announced a deal last month “would rescue the financially troubled Memphis Redbirds and AutoZone Park.” The foundation has been operating the team and the stadium under a forbearance agreement since it defaulted on bonds in 2010.

The deal would have the St. Louis Cardinals buy the team and the city of Memphis to buy the park, which it would then lease to the Redbirds under a long-term lease agreement. The exact price of the park has not been made public, though The Daily News reported the price to be “south of $24 million.”

According to the foundation, the deal has been approved by the foundation’s sole bondholder, Fundamental Advisors.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said his administration has “done our homework and believe that it is in the best long-term interests of the city and its residents to move forward with this transaction.” Of course, Wharton said he encourages the city council to approve the deal Tuesday.

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  • From the Memphis Redbirds Facebook page
The deal would come with new investments in the ballpark. Photos from the Redbirds’ Facebook account show new general admission seating on grassy hills (much like the existing Bluff section) on the left and right field corners of the park. A new concession stand and bar are planned for the new seating section in the left field corner. The photos also show a new LED board against the left field wall and updates to club-level bars and seating.

Representatives with the Crosstown Development Project will ask council members for $15 million to fund infrastructure needs and site cleanup at the old Sears Crosstown building in the midst of the Evergreen, Vollinitine-Evergreen and Speedway Terrace neighborhoods.

In October, the Shelby County Land Use Control Board approved the redevelopment of the 1.5 million square-foot building into a “vertical urban village” that could become the home to healthcare clinics, a school, and more.

The total project cost is estimated to be $175 million, with the majority of that money coming from the building's founding partners — Church Health Center, Methodist Healthcare, Gestalt Community Schools, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, ALSAC, Memphis Teacher Residency, Rhodes College, and Crosstown Arts.

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