Memphis City Council votes to buy AutoZone Park - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Memphis City Council votes to buy AutoZone Park

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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) -

After more than two hours of debate, the city of Memphis decided to get into the baseball park business.

The town is now the proud new owner of a baseball park, AutoZone Park after city council approved by and 8-4 vote a deal to buy it Tuesday.

The St. Louis Cardinals will buy the Redbirds, their Triple-A affiliate, as part of this deal.

MORE: Mayor, Redbirds lobby council on AutoZone Park proposal

 Redbirds and Cardinals fans came out to encourage city council to vote in favor of purchasing the ballpark.

The city will issue a negotiated purchase price of $24 million in bonds for the purchase, that will be paid off over 17 years.

This has been a contentious issue for the better part of a month since the Wharton administration first proposed it. Critics have claimed that this is a bad investment with shaky prospects of breaking even.

But according to Mayor A C Wharton and the council members who voted yes, if all goes to plan the taxpayers will not have to pay a single dime to keep AutoZone Park up and running.

The mayor said no money will come out of taxpayers pockets as three revenue streams will cover the payments -- sales tax from the stadium, property tax from adjacent buildings, and rent from the Cardinals.

MORE: Cardinals to play Redbirds in March 28 exhibition

The alternative to this deal was risking the Redbirds be sold and moved, leaving an empty ballpark in the middle of downtown.

Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak, who was in attendance at city hall for the council vote, said fans will see big changes going forward.

MORE: Cardinals Caravan visits AutoZone Park Jan. 19

"What we want is to reduce the seating, we want the capacity to be where people come to a game and they feel the environment is lively," Mozeliak said. "We want to create  some premium seating, club seating. We want to bring the berm into the ballpark."

Mozeliak added the Cardinals main goals in purchasing the Redbirds is improving the team, ballpark, and turning a profit.

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