MEMPHIS — The St. Louis Cardinals, the city of Memphis and the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation have completed the ownership transition of the Memphis Redbirds and AutoZone Park as part of a multi-party transaction that secures the long-term future of Minor League Baseball in Memphis.
“We are pleased to finalize the purchase of the Redbirds and are looking forward to a long-term partnership with the city of Memphis,” added William DeWitt Jr., Chairman and CEO of the St. Louis Cardinals. “Finalizing this deal represents a positive move toward stability of professional baseball in Memphis.”
As part of the agreement, the St. Louis Cardinals have acquired the Memphis Redbirds, while the City of Memphis has acquired AutoZone Park. The City will lease the ballpark to the Redbirds via a long-term lease agreement. The purchase agreement includes a significant, multi-season capital investment in AutoZone Park, which will be used to add state-of-the-art features and fan-friendly amenities to the ballpark. At closing, Fundamental Advisors LP, the Foundation’s sole bondholder, retired the original bonds issued by the Memphis Center City Revenue Finance Corporation.
“This is a great day for the people of Memphis,” said John Pontius, treasurer for the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation. “All of us stand to benefit from the significant planned improvements to AutoZone Park, which will enhance the fan experience and bring renewed excitement to the City. With the Cardinal’s best-in-class leadership, the Redbirds are destined for great things.”
“We are proud to announce the closing of this deal. With it comes long-term benefits for our great city, including stabilizing the future of the Redbirds and AutoZone Park for decades to come” said Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “Through this transaction we will continue our successful re-vitalization of downtown Memphis – in fact, we are looking forward to the festivities tonight, with the highly anticipated ‘Battle of the Birds,’ when the Redbirds are hosting the Cardinals in a sold out preseason exhibition game for their 2014 season opener at AutoZone Park.”
“Over the past three and a half years, together with the City and the Foundation, we’ve worked hard to stabilize the financial condition of the team and maintain the stadium at the highest level possible,” said Laurence Gottlieb, Chairman and CEO of Fundamental. “Thanks to all parties involved, both the Redbirds and AutoZone Park have bright futures ahead. We are proud of what we have achieved and believe it is the right time to pass the baton onto the City of Memphis and the world-class St. Louis Cardinals organization.”
Barrett Sports Group played an integral role in advising Fundamental on the overall deal structure. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, PC acted as counsel with regard to bond and financing matters and Husch Blackwell, LLP acted as transaction counsel to Fundamental.