Redbirds fans rally in support of downtown ballpark - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Redbirds fans rally in support of downtown ballpark

The group of fans, residents and members from the downtown business community braved the cold, clad in red, to call for the city to buy the park. The group of fans, residents and members from the downtown business community braved the cold, clad in red, to call for the city to buy the park.
They walked from AutoZone Park, down Main Street, and to the steps of City Hall where they signed a giant baseball to be presented to the city council during the 3:30 p.m. meeting. They walked from AutoZone Park, down Main Street, and to the steps of City Hall where they signed a giant baseball to be presented to the city council during the 3:30 p.m. meeting.

(WMC-TV) - Memphis Redbirds fans showed up in droves to the meeting in which Memphis City Council will decide whether to buy AutoZone Park.

The group of fans, residents and members from the downtown business community braved the cold, clad in red, to call for the city to buy the park.

They walked from AutoZone Park, down Main Street, and to the steps of City Hall where they signed a giant baseball to be presented to the city council during the 3:30 p.m. meeting.

The deal now at the plate: The St. Louis Cardinals would operate the ballpark and taxpayers would spend up to $5 million over 17 years.

The Redbirds are currently the feeder team for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The mayor feels the professional baseball team could better market the Redbirds. However, some council members say the city cannot afford to make the purchase.

Fundamental Advisors bought the park when the Redbirds defaulted on its bonds. The equity firm could sell the park to the city administration for a cost ranging from $15 to $20 million, with taxpayers footing a possible $5 million of that total over the next 17 years.

Jay Truelove and Ken McDaniel say it is scary to think that AutoZone Park could be no more, if the Memphis City Council votes not to buy the stadium.

"We formed a friendship 14 years ago right here at this stadium," said Ken McDaniel.

The baseball pals were the first two fans to enter the park.

"We lined up outside the stadium all night long to be the first ones to get tickets," he added.

The two men joined 100 fellow fans, residents, and downtown business community members to rally for the council to vote 'yes' on the stadium acquisition.

Even the St. Louis Cardinals' general manager braved the cold for the cause.

"Really what this shows is the importance of keeping baseball here in Memphis," said St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak. "We want to just create a vibe down here that people are excited about."

"If this thing goes away, I don't know what future families growing up now will do," said Truelove.

Several city council members are optimistic the deal will be approved.

It is just a matter of how much they are willing to spend that has the deal hanging by a thread.

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