Mayor, Redbirds lobby council on AutoZone Park proposal - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Mayor, Redbirds lobby council on AutoZone Park proposal

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

UPDATE: The rally for AutoZone Park has begun.

Mayor A C Wharton's administration and the Memphis Redbirds leadership met one-on-one with nearly every Memphis city council member Monday about the proposal for the city to buy AutoZone Park.

The vote is expected Tuesday.

MORE: Wharton asks to delay AutoZone Park vote to Jan. 7

With big votes like these, there is always a push to delay. But if this vote happens, the city will be the proud new owners of a baseball park.

The day before the expected vote, city council members were up and down the hallways of city hall all day. Redbirds and city administration met one on one with council members throughout the day. The meetings were to inform but also lobby the council to vote for the deal.

The plan is a complex one, but would mean the city floats about $24-$25 million in bonds to buy AutoZone Park. The St. Louis Cardinals, the parent club of the Redbirds, would buy the Redbirds.

The mortgage for the city would be about $2 million a year and that would be paid for by rent from the Cardinals, about $300,000, property tax, and sales tax. The Wharton administration said the deal will pay for itself.

"I think this is a deal we need to make, we need to try and makes something happen here," said Councilman Kemp Conrad.   "But I think we need to make sure we fully protect the taxpayer. We don't want the profits privatized and the loses socialized."

"In a perfect world I would not want the city to own any of the sports arenas, like the Liberty Bowl," said Councilman Jim Strickland. "If I could wave a magic wand I would. But the problem is in this case, there is no other entity out there."

The administration said timeliness is key. But convincing a majority of the council to get into the baseball stadium business isn't an easy sell.

"It's my job to try and work with members of the council and come up with a transaction that might not be perfect in terms of everyone's satisfaction, but that's in the best interest of the city," Mayor Wharton said.

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