By Evan Weiner |
The minor league baseball season is winding down and there will be some movement of teams from one city to another and that brings up a question. What happens to a ballpark when a minor league team owner decides to pick up and leave? That is a problem now facing Mobile, Alabama, as BallCorps Inc. is taking its business and moving it to Madison, which is a Huntsville suburb. Mobile opened Hank Aaron Stadium in 1997. Twenty two years later, the ballpark is not good enough to house a Double A baseball team. The team will be gone by September 2 but the structure will remain and Mobile officials are going to have to figure out what to do with the property and how to fill the more than 70 dates that the ballpark was used by a professional baseball team.
The Mobile Sports Authority is hoping to fill the stadium dates with some level of baseball in 2020. It might be amateur tournaments featuring high school and college players but there is a problem with that. The original lease states that there must be a Double A team in the stadium or the land where the stadium sits would end up with the property owner. In this case a mall owner. But the city would have to raze the stadium if a replacement team cannot be found. The Mobile baseball team owners decided to leave the city behind and take the Madison new baseball park offer. The Madison ballpark, loaded with revenue producing gadgets, will be part of a stadium-village which is in vogue in venue building. A stadium or arena is the centerpiece of development. Sometimes the concept works, sometimes it works over a long period of time, sometimes it doesn’t with Chester, Pennsylvania’s soccer stadium village being the prime example of planning going wrong. The Mobile stadium lasted just 23 baseball seasons.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.