LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After debating for nearly four hours on Monday night, the Memphis City Council again delayed its vote on a proposal that would permit the Cardinals to purchase the Triple-A Redbirds franchise and Memphis to take ownership of AutoZone Park. The Council will meet to discuss the issue again on Dec. 17.
The City Council had already delayed the vote for a week before this latest postponement. Members requested the first delay in order to have sufficient time to review the proposal documents. The decision to further push back the vote on Monday came after several council members voiced concern about several financial aspects of the deal.
This second delay threatens to keep the transaction from being completed by the Dec. 31 date that had been a part of the initial agreement. St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said after Monday's non-resolution that he was unsure whether everything could still be wrapped up by the end of the year.
If the proposal passes, the Cardinals would cover at least $15 million in stadium improvements to AutoZone Park and pay $300,000 in annual rent to the city. Operating costs of the franchise and the stadium would become the responsibility of the Cardinals, as well.
The new lease would assure the Redbirds of remaining in Memphis through at least 2030. Once that 17-year lease ends, two five-year renewal options could then be exercised.
If the purchase is eventually completed, the Cardinals will have assumed ownership of their fourth Minor League affiliate. The team already owns its Double-A affiliate in Springfield, as well as its high Class A and rookie level clubs that play out of the organization's Jupiter complex.