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City makes plans to buy Hammons Field

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The city of Springfield has agreed to terms to purchase Hammons Field from the John Q. Hammons Charitable Trust. 

Additionally, the city has reached an agreement with the property owner of the parking lot to the south of the stadium for purchase of that property. 

The package deal including the stadium and parking lot is worth $12 million, Mayor Ken McClure announced at a fan and media event today. 

The city also has reached an agreement with the St. Louis Cardinals to keep the Double A ballclub in Springfield until 2038. 

The sale comes with a commitment by the city to make $4 million in improvements to the ballpark to enhance player safety and fan experience, McClure said. These improvements are required by Major League Baseball. 

The purchase is pending a vote later this month by Springfield City Council and some other steps, spelled out in baseball terms by City Manager Jason Gage. 

Gage said four steps are pending. First base is approval by the Planning & Zoning Commission, which makes sure capital expenditures conform to the city’s comprehensive plan. 

“We’re running toward first, but we’re not going to stop,” Gage said. 

Second base is for council to have a first reading and subsequent vote of a measure to buy the property. They will have a first reading and hearing at their regular meeting Feb. 6, with a vote at a special meeting in a couple of weeks, Gage said. 

Third base is to appear before a judge for approval, as the Hammons Trust and the city are involved in an ongoing bankruptcy proceeding that involves a development agreement with the city. 

“Usually, running home isn’t easy, but we’re going to turn third hard,” Gage said. “Home is the closing, and when we close, we will have completed the dream of a home run for the community.” 

Hammons Field was opened in 2004 as a home for the Springfield Cardinals, the Double-A Minor League Baseball affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, and for the Missouri State University Bears. 

Baseball fan and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson sent remarks that were read by the mayor.  

“The proposed investment is not only a win for sports fans but means economic opportunities for business and the people in southwest Missouri,” he said. 

During remarks by Springfield Cardinals General Manager Dan Reiter, he attempted to hold back tears. 

“We’re here to teach the next generation of fans how beautiful this game is,” he said, adding that the team is excited to collaborate with the city, and thanking officials for reaching an agreement. “We look forward to what the future holds, for both baseball and our community.” 

McClure also came to tears during the announcement. 

“This is the house that John Q. Hammons built. Now it’s the people’s house,” he said. “The sky is the limit, and it’s our responsibility to swing for the fences.” 

There is no immediate plan to rename the field, though naming rights could be sold in the future to make improvements to the field, according to the terms in the agreement. 

Additional reporting will be featured in the Feb. 6 print edition of Springfield Business Journal. 

Opening day for the Springfield Cardinals is April 6. 

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Richard@PellaARMO.com

This may sound a bit silly, but getting control of that parking lot for the stadium might be the biggest part of this deal. That way, IF the stadium etc. needs to be sold (St. Louis Cardinals etc.), it is a MUCH BETTER package. Without that parcel being "controlled", that ballpark was always going to have a problem.

Good Job Springfield!

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