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Group Wants to Bring Baseball Back to Mobile

Written by on November 22, 2019
Hank Aaron Stadium
Hank Aaron Stadium

A group headed up by one of the owners of the Southern League’s Biloxi Shuckers wants to bring minor league baseball back to Mobile. The group also includes support and investment from legendary Baseball Hall of Famers from Mobile, Alabama Hank Aaron and Ozzie Smith.

This is all according to former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama Kenyen Brown, who is representing the ownership group.  This effort comes only a couple of months after the BallCorp owned Southern League Mobile BayBears played their last game in Mobile and moved to Madison’s Toyota Field to become the Trash Pandas.

If the proposal is approved by the City of Mobile, Tim Bennett would buy the Atlantic League’s Road Warriors team and relocate them to Mobile by the Summer of 2021. The Road Warriors are a traveling team that is owned by the Atlantic League and is used when the league has less than the 8 teams it needs to field a competitive sports league.  The Atlantic League is an independent league that Major League Baseball uses to test out new rules or technologies to see how they work before implementing them in Minor League Baseball and eventually the Majors.  The teams in the Atlantic League are mainly located in the Northwest and Mid-Atlantic, however, they do have teams located in Sugarland Texas and North Carolina. 

Brown told media after the Mobile City Council pre-conference that the group led by Bennet would include investors like Hank Aaron and Ozzie Smith as well as former NBA Basketball Star Tracy McGrady. Brown also said that Bennet would like to bring other events like collegiate and high school baseball tournaments to the stadium as well as other professional sports events, like soccer.  This proposal is also a competing proposal to one that was presented to the City Council last week by a different group that wants to use the stadium site for events like the Halloween Lights of Fright and the Christmas Nights of Lights that they purchased from previous owners to keep them in Mobile.  That group also wants to bring other sporting events to the Stadium. 

The group headed by Bennett wants the city to terminate the lease with the Southern League’s BallCorp Group and enter into a fresh new lease with their group.  The reason for this push is because the BallCorp lease requires the city to hold the lease payments they receive in escrow for the purpose of the demolition of the stadium after sporting activities end. Bennett’s Group wants those payments to be held in escrow for the purpose of the required maintenance and renovation of the stadium.   Brown also said that 20 percent of all advertising sales from the outfield wall and a $2 surcharge for each ticket sold would go to the city as well.  The other group’s incentives for the city include a provision that the group would assume all maintenance and repair costs, as well as take on the responsibility of the Stadium’s utilities.

Questions also arose at the pre-conference about the terms of the land-use agreement the city has with the owners of the land that the stadium sits on, which requires the city to maintain Double-A level Baseball or similar activities on the site or face the possibility of demolishing the stadium and returning the land back to the owners. Any action on the stadium has been tabled until the council can get a better clarification on the lease situation. 

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