City of Memphis Acquires AutoZone Park in Ownership Transition from Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation
MEMPHIS, TN (March 28, 2014) –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 pre-season 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.
About The Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation
The Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation is the first and only not-for-profit charitable organization in the United States to own and operate a professional baseball franchise, the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. AutoZone Park – the finest ballpark ever built in the United States below the Major League level – is the home of the Redbirds and has served as the cornerstone of development in downtown Memphis. Incorporating the Memphis Redbirds as not-for-profit entity allows the community to own the team and facility. For the first time in history, Mid-South residents, corporate leaders and baseball fans are able to give back to the community – and at the same time enjoy first class entertainment – by supporting Memphis Redbirds Baseball.
About the St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals (www.cardinals.com) are one of the most storied franchises in all of baseball. Since they joined the National League in 1892, the Cardinals have won more than 9,500 games, 11 World Series Championships and 19 N.L. Pennants, 3 N.L. Eastern Division Titles, 8 N.L. Central Division Titles and 2 N.L. Wild Card Titles. Over 40 former Cardinals players and managers are enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
About Fundamental Advisors
Fundamental Advisors is a leading alternative asset manager dedicated to the municipal markets. Founded in 2007 as a private equity firm focused on revitalizing distressed assets, Fundamental now offers a range of investment vehicles that capitalize on the growing opportunity set in the municipal market. For more information, please visit www.fundamentaladvisorslp.com.