Pending approval by a bankruptcy judge, the city of Springfield will be the owner of Hammons Field, home of the Springfield Cardinals, following a vote by Springfield City Council at a special meeting today.
Council voted 8-0, with Craig Hosmer voting “present,” to approve a $16 million deal that includes a $6.5 million purchase of the ballpark that has been home to the Minor League Baseball Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals since 2004.
Also included in the price is a $5.5 million expenditure for the purchase of 4.5- and 0.8-acre parking lots that are adjacent to the field and are owned by Atrium Holding Co. and JD Holdings LLC, plus a $4 million commitment to ballpark renovations that are required by Major League Baseball.
Councilmember Hosmer objected to the price of the parking lots and asked for the council measure to be divided. His motion did not get a second.
Hosmer called the parking lot purchase a misuse of public funds. He said the parking lot price is overvalued by $2.5 million, and city funds should be put to a better purpose.
“I think we’re paying twice what the value of the parking lot is,” Hosmer said. “We’ve got limited resources, and we should use those resources appropriately. This is not a good expenditure.”
Hosmer paused before voting on the bill calling for a combined $12 million property purchase, but instead of voting no, he voted “present,” which City Attorney Rhonda Lewsader characterized as a recusal.
The deal will be paid for by $13.8 million in general revenue funds and $2.2 million in level property tax funds.
Councilmember Matthew Simpson backed the purchase.
“I think that this is a very good day for the city – a historic day for the city,” he said. “We’re making sure that we are keeping Hammons Field as a community asset and we’re keeping the Cardinals here through 2038.”
He added it is a good use of one-time funding for something that will provide long-term benefit for the city.
The ballpark is currently owned by the John Q. Hammons Charitable Trust, which is currently involved in bankruptcy proceedings with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Kansas. A judge must approve the purchase before the city can sign off on the deal.
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