As the city considers what to do with a baseball stadium without a team, the co-owner of a Mississippi minor league team says he’s put together a group that wants to bring professional baseball back to Mobile and keep the legacy of the Hank Aaron Stadium alive.
Recently, Timothy Bennett — a partial owner of the Biloxi Shuckers who helped bring the Mississippi Braves to the Magnolia state in the early 2000s — reached out to Mayor Sandy Stimpson and the Mobile City Council with a proposal for the future of Hank Aaron Stadium.
After 22 years in the Port City, the Mobile BayBears — a minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels — played its last game at Hank Aaron Stadium in September when BallCorps, which still has two years left on its lease with the city, relocated the team to Madison as the “Rocket City Trash Pandas.”
A group has already approached the city about the possibility of taking over the remainder of the lease at the stadium to hosts events and various sports tournaments there, but there have also been some concerns about provisions in the city’s lease of the property.
Under the 99-year agreement, that property could revert back to the control of the developer, McGowin Properties, if the stadium isn’t occupied by a Double-A baseball team or the equivalent thereof or if the city fails to hold events there for a period of two years.
This week Bennett asked city officials to hear his proposal before making a decision about what will become of “The Hank.” Speaking to Lagniappe Friday, he said it would be a major loss for Mobile and baseball in general if the stadium were to sit unused or even worse, be torn down.
“We lost a team in Mobile, but we still have a stadium that’s attached to one of the greatest names in all of baseball. How fortunate are we that Hank Aaron grew up in Mobile?” Bennett said. “There has to be a professional minor league team there in order for the stadium to stay, and the best way to make sure we do not lose Hank Aaron Stadium is to fulfill that obligation.”
Bennett said he’d already obtained the rights to bring a professional minor league to Mobile, though he is keeping specific details under wraps for the time being. However, he said he could guarantee a new team up and running by 2021 and has already assembled a potential ownership group that includes current and former professional athletes from various sports — including some originally from the state of Alabama.
In addition to keeping baseball in Mobile, Bennett said he and some of the others involved are focused on keeping Hank Aaron’s legacy intact and to serve future generations of children who will grow up in the same city the record setting Hall of Fame player spent his earliest years.
“Every child in this community should know, through that stadium, that they can be whatever they want to be. Hank Aaron said he didn’t think growing up that he’d become who he has but he did,” Bennett said. “We have an opportunity to further that legacy by keeping this stadium and his name around.”
Lagniappe reached out to a city spokesperson asking about Bennett’s proposal Friday afternoon but has yet to receive a response. More information will be posted as it’s made available in the coming days.
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