BRADENTON, Fla. — Final approval of a deal to rescue the Memphis Redbirds and AutoZone Park bonds from foreclosure remains tenuous following yet another delay in approvals from city and county officials.
Mayor A C Wharton, who negotiated a deal to take out $20 million of defaulted bonds, save the minor league baseball park, and sell the Redbirds to the St. Louis Cardinals and keep them in Memphis, asked for further consideration be delayed until Jan 7.
Wharton's request came after the City Council cut the offer to purchase the ballpark to $15 million from $20 million, made other revisions, and delayed final action on the deal until Dec. 17.
"In light of the questions that remain my administration has asked that the vote concerning AutoZone Park be held at the Jan. 7 council meeting," said a statement by Wharton, who added that the additional time would be used to analyze the council's offer, and continue negotiations with Fundamental Advisors LP.
Fundamental Advisors, a private firm specializing in distressed debt, bought $58 million of defaulted bonds for about $24 million in 2010. The firm has a leasehold interest in the ballpark and the Redbirds, and they could foreclose on the bonds and sell the stadium, and the team.
Under terms of the council's offer, the city would sell sports facility revenue bonds to purchase the stadium from Fundamental, which would also receive $15 million from the Cardinals' purchase of the Redbirds.
There were plans to close on the deal by Dec. 31 so it is not clear if the delay until Jan. 7 could scuttle a successful agreement.