City of Memphis may consider buying AutoZone Park - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City of Memphis may consider buying AutoZone Park

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis Redbirds need money, and the baseball team is looking to the city of Memphis to buy AutoZone Park.

For the past 12 years, the home of the Redbirds has made downtown Memphis a more family friendly destination.

"This is not merely something for the city," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.  "Quite frankly, this is something that's a jewel.  It's a downtown anchor."

Wharton said he is willing to consider a proposal to enter into a public-private partnership with the Redbirds Foundation, the owners of AutoZone Park.

"We feel it's in everybody's best interest to make sure it's enhanced and becomes a permanent part of the landscape of Memphis," said Wharton.

Wharton would not say how much the city can afford to pitch in.

"Absolutely nothing has been decided," he said.  "Only thing that's been decided and agreed upon is that the Redbirds' stadium is an anchor and a critical part of our downtown landscape."

Wharton said he does not know whether the current owners need immediate financial help.  The Redbirds Foundation fell behind on a bond payment in 2009, but park attendance was up last year.

"We're not looking at it from a standpoint of a fire sale or a bailout, we are looking at it going forward," said Wharton.

Wharton said he wants to insure the park's future without putting the city in financial jeopardy.

"It could be a win-win for everybody involved," he said.

Friday, representatives from the Redbirds Foundation, including Tim McCarver, were waiting to meet with Wharton.  The mayor would not say what was on the agenda.

Wharton has canceled a meeting next week to discuss whether the city is willing to spend money on improvements to the Liberty Bowl.

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