Autozone Park Deal Calls For City To Pay For Improvements
(Memphis) Some are calling “foul ball” on the deal that has the city of Memphis buying Autozone Park.
On top of the $19 million dollar price tag for the downtown stadium, the city’s also picking up $4.5 million for improvements.
This deal cost the city around $25 million. The city council approved it but not unanimously.
One strike was the improvements the Cardinals wanted.
Some city council members say since the Cardinals wanted them, the team should pay for them.
To help seal the $25 million deal, the Cardinals sent their general manager to Autozone Park.
“We want people to show up but more importantly we want the experience right here to be one that you remember and want to revisit time and time again,” said John Mozeliak, General Manager, St. Louis Cardinals.
It appears enhancing the experience means a $4.5 million investment in renovations by the city.
On Facebook, WREG found a few sketches and a statement.
This statement said, “Our concept is to create a more inviting lower bowl, a more vibrant club level atmosphere, and add other new opportunities throughout the ballpark.”
There are no specifics about those opportunities and changes even council members we talked to don’t know.
“The only thing they said was they were going to put some kind of suites in there. We already have suites but they’re going to take away those suites and put in some other kind of suites which I have absolutely no knowledge of what that is,” said Janis Fullilove, Memphis City Council.
Fullilove and three other council members voted against the city buying the park saying it’s not a necessity.
She doesn’t think the city should pay for upgrades.
“They’re going to profit more so than the city of Memphis. Let them make those improvements,” said Fullilove.
Fullilove is also upset over how she says she and her constituents were treated in the deal.
“I felt very pissed off. I’ll put it like that,” she said.
When the Cardinals came to town they met with other council members, not Fullilove, she says that’s a slap in the face of those she represents.
“You don’t have to like me but at least show the respect for the office that I hold because I represent my constituency and I answer to them and I wanted to give them answers,” said Fullilove.
The park improvements won’t happen by the start of baseball season, sometime after September.
The deal is set up so the city won’t have to contribute any cash.
The park will be purchased using bonds and repaid through the yearly rent charged to the Cardinals.
State rebates on sales tax collected at the park will also go to pay for Autozone park but here’s the catch: if the taxes fall short, the city will have to come up with some money.