City of Memphis votes to purchase AutoZone Park - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City of Memphis votes to purchase AutoZone Park

Posted: Updated:
Supporters for the acquisition marched from the 14-year-old park to city hall Tuesday afternoon where they signed a giant baseball that was presented to the city council in the meeting. Supporters for the acquisition marched from the 14-year-old park to city hall Tuesday afternoon where they signed a giant baseball that was presented to the city council in the meeting.
Councilman Harold Collins was among those who voted against the plan. Councilman Harold Collins was among those who voted against the plan.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The City of Memphis voted Tuesday to purchase AutoZone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds, for $19.5 million. Council members approved the purchase 8-4.

During Tuesday's meeting, city council members approved the measure to use some of the taxpayers' money to buy the ballpark.

The city will spend $19.5 million for the park and $4.5 million for renovations while the St. Louis Cardinals purchase the Redbirds. Taxpayers could spend up to $5 million over the next 17 years.

Taxpayer debt will be paid back through, among other things, $300,000 in annual rent and sales tax rebates.

The Redbirds currently serve as the feeder team for the Cardinals.

Mayor A C Wharton feels the professional baseball team could better market the Redbirds.

"Everybody agrees that the stadium in the middle of our downtown is a critical asset," he said.

The mayor also wants to set up an RBI (Return Baseball to the Inner-city) Endowment.

"What we'd like is to see that the benefits of that stadium go out into the community," said Wharton.

Supporters for the acquisition marched from the 14-year-old park to city hall Tuesday afternoon where they signed a giant baseball that was presented to the city council in the meeting.

Councilman Harold Collins was among those who voted against the plan.

"I am a huge Cardinals fan," he said. "But I also am a huge fan of the citizens of Memphis"

He was among those afraid the citizens would strike out if the Cardinals were to ever leave town early.

"If the Cardinals leave or something else happens then I'm left in a situation I don't want to get in, which is with a stadium," said council member Wanda Halbert.

The Cardinals say they are committed to Memphis and to making the city's baseball team a success.

"Our hope is to be here for a very long time. We certainly didn't want to sign a 17-year lease thinking we were going to leave town," said Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak.

Copyright 2014 WMC-TV . All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow