St. Louis Cardinals Buying Redbirds, City Buying Autozone Park

(Memphis) The Memphis Redbirds are one of the last nonprofit professional sports teams, but not for much longer.

The St. Louis Cardinals have reached a deal to purchase the Memphis Redbirds from the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation.

The foundation has been operating at a loss and defaulted on a required bond payment in 2010.

“The Cardinals have acquired our Triple-A affiliate Memphis Redbirds. “The Redbirds represent the best of minor league baseball. This opens the door to countless new opportunities for our combined organization, and we are thrilled about the prospects for baseball fans in both of our great cities.” – William DeWitt Jr., Chairman and CEO of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The agreement calls for the St. Louis Cardinals (“Cardinals”) to acquire the Memphis Redbirds and the City of Memphis to acquire AutoZone Park.

The City would then lease the ballpark to the Redbirds through a long-term lease agreement.

The agreement reportedly includes a large financial investment into improvements at the park.

It is not clear how much this will cost Memphis taxpayers and many detractors question the city getting into the ballpark business.

Mayor A C Wharton, who couldn’t give a ball park figure for how much it may cost, said the news threw him for a curve.

“It’s a bit premature because I have not received a contract. Not even a draft quite frankly,” said Wharton.

Councilwoman Wanda Halbert balked at the mayor’s claim not to know anything.

“I would be very surprised why the Cardinals or the Redbirds would come out and talk about this kind of venture without someone in city government knowing about it,” said Halbert.

She said if there is a deal in the works council is being left in the dugout.

“I have not heard anything other than what’s been on television so the mayor has not stared the details of what that is. I’m a little disappointed,” said Halbert.

They mayor says talks have been going on for a long time but he wants to determine how it would financially impact the entire city before making a definite decision.

The Memphis City Council must approve the deal by December 31.

9 comments

  • Ron Shaffer

    Really? I mean come on Memphis with all the other problems this city has and you want to spend money like this? This cities government is just screwed on their priorities.

  • Bill

    Mr. Shaffer they are spending money on keeping a highly respected athletic team here in Memphis. I am NO fan of Memphis government but I do not see this as a bad move. They are setting up a long term lease agreement so it is not like they are giving the park for free. Also if the Cardinals were to pull out what would you do with that stadium? It would cost a whole lot more money to re-purpose that site.

    • Thomas H. Evans

      Bill, what are the advantages to the city and the people of the city for purchasing the ball park? If the Cardinals have a valid interest in the team but not the ball park, don’t you think they can find a place for the team if needed? What are we going to do with the ball park; like what are we doing with Bill Street Landing, or Chisca Hotel?

  • Hard Truths

    WHOSE money is being wasted on this white elephant?

    When does the PUBLIC get some bailout relief, instead of just these rich and foolish demigods who get these things built, then don’t pay for them?

  • Joe Williams

    The incompetency of the city “government” at its best. The Cards come out smelling like a rose and Memphis screws the tax payers… again!!! And the voters in this city will not say anything. Memphis representing!!!

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