How The Funding Of AutoZone Park Will Work

(Memphis) The city council voted to purchase AutoZone Park Tuesday.

Eight council members voted in favor of the purchase which will cost $36 million after financing.

Purchase price of the park is $19.5 million plus $4.5 million in improvements and then the financing charges.

City leaders say if the financing plan works, taxpayers should not have to contribute any money to the deal.

The purchase was the result of an 8-4 vote with Janis Fullilove, Lee Harris, Wanda Halbert and Harold Collins voting ‘no.’

“We can’t fully explain to citizens how we support these initiatives that don’t affect the day-to-day services to citizens,” said Halbert.

Council member Shea Flinn recused himself because a radio station he runs broadcasts Redbirds games.

The city council meeting opened with public comments.

One supporter said that, speaking as a real estate investor, the ballpark is a major reason businesses invest in the area.

A person who works as an usher at the park said she was “shocked” that people are opposed to the purchase, because not only would she and others lose their jobs, but it would also impact tourism.

Others oppose the city getting involved in another venue and wondered where the money was coming from when there are shortfalls in other areas.

“it’s exactly like a deadbeat dad refusing to pay a child support order so he can buy a gift,” said Kenneth Whalum.

The Cardinals will pay $300,000 a year in rent and could pay an additional $100,000 if revenues fall short of projections.

AutoZone will pay $100,000 for ten years of naming rights for the park.

Bonds will also be issued and there are rebates expected on sales tax at the park.

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said the organization wants to make a profit and grow the team to perform as it should for a city of this size.

We asked Mozeliak if the discussions which went on for weeks made him worry about doing business with the city in the future.

“We were under impression it would go quickly, but this 13 member council has to do their job,” said Mozeliak.

Money from the deal will come from bonds, and the Cardinals’ lease for the stadium is 17 years.