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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Key players in the proposed Memphis baseball sale

On Friday morning, a press release was issued by a New York public relations firm to announce a “strategic agreement” for the sale of the financially-strapped Memphis Redbirds and AutoZone Park.

While the basic information itself has been discussed often in recent months, the timing indicates the play is nearing the goal line. Specifically, earlier this week, news of a private reception/rally planned next Tuesday at AZP became known.

The expected purpose of the event, hosted by the Memphis Redbirds Foundation, is to drum up local support for what appears to be the last open item – the City of Memphis stepping up to purchase the ballpark.

The City Council is scheduled to meet on the proposal on December 3, with the deadline to close both the sale of the stadium to the City and the team to the St. Louis Cardinals set for December 31. When the idea was initially floated, the Council’s view was characterized by some as “lukewarm”.

Here is what the proposed deal could mean for key parties.

Memphis Redbirds Foundation. After defaulting on bond payments tied to the construction of AutoZone Park, the not-for-profit group gets out from under the tangled financial mess as the defaulted ballpark bonds will be retired.

St. Louis Cardinals. The organization adds ownership of its highest-level affiliate and leases the ballpark from the City.

Fundamental Advisors. The New York-based private equity firm that specializes in distressed assets will likely turn a profit after acquiring the defaulted ballpark bonds at a discount several years ago.

Global Spectrum. Hired as a facilities manager several years ago to stem the operating losses, it is not clear if the unit of media giant Comcast will be needed once the Cardinals assume operation of the team. They were not mentioned in the press release.

City of Memphis. While the City would receive ongoing lease payments from the Cardinals that should cover maintenance and more, the burden assumed in issuing bonds to acquire AutoZone Park is what taxpayers and the City Council will surely scrutinize over the upcoming days.

Baseball fans. Memphis Redbirds fans should get to continue to enjoy Triple-A baseball for years to come.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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15 Responses to “Key players in the proposed Memphis baseball sale”

  1. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    BD has been trolling that situation for years. The city saved the stadium from “other alternatives” but the Cards still got the Franchise ……at a good price I’d guess……….

    Its always hard for a team to get fan support with the Cardinal team shuttling so many players……………hum….with that stadium hanging there……I wonder if that influence some of our player decisions …….. ???? I didn’t follow that team so I haven’t any idea.

    • Nutlaw says:

      Does the shuttling hurt attendance? I don’t really know, so I’m asking in earnest. Would there not be an appeal in watching players who had major league experience and who were projected to head back there soon?

      • Brian Walton says:

        Nothing unique about Memphis’ situation, though it is worth noting the facility is top-notch. Every minor league owner wants a competitive team and continuity of players. The latter often is not possible due to needs above. Business as usual.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    3B Scott Moore may have been smart sign. In 2012, in 200 at bats for the Astros, Moore had an OPS of 778. This is higher than Freese during 2013, just passed. Its a lot higher than Descalso,
    backup left swing third sacker. Moore represents an immediate offensive upgrade over Descalso and a platoon partner for Freese, without costing a 40 man roster slot. The Cards must have analysts who study the field of major and minor league free agents, since Moore seems an early target, not a random signing. We gave him some money and got him in the fold.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Bernie had a column on the defensive ratings of SSes. Jhonny Peralta was surprisingly effective, better than Stephen Drew. Peralta could land a big time pay day this winter. He is a compensation free free agent, unlike Drew. Somebody is going to give him a ton of money. I hope its Mo.

  4. Bw52 says:

    A GM would have to be crazy to give Peralta 3 yrs36-45 million.Those are the figures that have been mentioned in rumors.Same with Drew.I think Peralta ends up a Met and Drew ends up back in Boston.Cards end up with a guy like Reid Brignac or Alexi Casilla to compete with Kozma.Mo will save his bullets till midseason or next offseason.Thats my guess.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Bw52, do you recall what Theo Epstein did in December 2006? He gave Julio Lugo $36 million for four years. Never underestimate the ability of GMs to make bad decisions.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Salaries for vets are going up. I would be surprised if Peralta got less than $36MM. He is worth more than Drew, because he does not cost a pick.

      The Cards fell just short in 2012 and 2013. They will spend this off season, because DeWitt likes to win.

    • Nutlaw says:

      I don’t think that Drew is returning to Boston. They have Bogaerts to play shortstop.

      • Bw52 says:

        I have my doubts about Boston trusting Bogaerts at SS right off the bat.Drew could possibly return for a year and go FA next season if he gets no offers to his liking.Boston also has no ready stand-in if Bogaert pulls a Kozma.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Pete could sue Bogaerts for trying to pull a Kozma.

          Nobody does Kozma like Super Pete. What he does is patent protected.

          • Bw52 says:

            The ability to make a clutch error that changes a WS game and to be totally inept with the bat is the Kozma legacy so far.Like Denkinger`s bad call, Curt Floods misplay in 1968 WS that is Kozma `s claim to fame.

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