Should Memphis buy AutoZone park? - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Should Memphis buy AutoZone park?

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - By all indications, it appears the St. Louis Cardinals want to buy the Memphis Redbirds. But there is a figurative question mark on the playing field. Should the City of Memphis buy AutoZone Park? And perhaps more importantly, is it in their budget?

The sale of the Memphis Redbirds to the St. Louis Cardinals is certainly not a done deal. But a late night headline in the Wall Street Journal gives the deal a more imminent feel.

Cardinals Chairman William Dewitt told the newspaper the transaction would keep the organization in Memphis for many years to come.

Meanwhile, what is to become of AutoZone Park?

"That's a big, big question that we have to answer, what is in the best interest of the city?" said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

Mayor Wharton says the city holds the lease and purchasing the park has long been a topic of discussion.

"Whatever we do will be designed so that our entire community benefits from it. These are hard times for the city," he said.

Buying a ball park could cost the city as much as $20 million and would require approval from the Memphis City Council.

Would the city council support the idea?

Councilman Jim Strickland said it would depend on the details but the park would have to pay for itself.

Harold Collins is interested in what the mayor has to say. But added, "We can't pay for streets, how can we buy a stadium?"

Myron Lowery says "No". At least until the city is on much stronger financial ground and certainly not before restoring a 4.6 percent paycut to city employees.

"Whatever we do, we've got to make sure that everyone back home benefits from it," said Mayor Wharton.

It looks like the mayor has not hit a home run on this one yet. But a potential purchase of the park and the team will not interrupt America's favorite pastime.

The Memphis Redbirds host their season opener Thursday at 7:05 p.m. at AutoZone Park.

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