Release of agreement for stadium delayed, council members start to differ on direction

The City of Madison has still not released the lease and licensing agreement Madison Mayor Paul Finley signed with BallCorps Inc. two weeks ago, committing Madison to building a $46 million stadium.

Finley says he agrees the lease agreement – which is far longer than the ordinance the Madison City Council approved empowering Finley to negotiate the lease – should be released. But he wants to wait until they’ve reached a related agreement with Town Madison developer Louis Breland.

Finley said last week he thought the agreement would be completed and made available Monday. But at the city council’s regular meeting Monday night, he said the development agreement wasn’t finished.

During the same meeting, two council members expressed concerns about a lack of transparency related to the development agreement. The city council approved a measure accepting land from Breland that will be used to build the proposed multi-use stadium. But it’s just a piece of the development agreement and Madison City Council members Gerald Clark and Teddy Powell expressed concerns about what the city is getting into.

“I don’t want to point out the obvious,” Clark said during the meeting, “that you really don’t know what you’re getting into, ya know? Teddy kind of said it earlier, we’re stepping in, putting our toe in a little further. We don’t even know what we’re putting our toe in with this one.”

Powell said council members were being asked to approve things they haven’t seen.

“I have never, I mean that’s like going to a car dealership and them handing you an agreement and you go ‘Hey guys this is a great car’ and you sign it,” Powell said. “And you don’t even look at the paperwork.”

Madison City Council President Tommy Overcash responded to Powell, saying the deal is taking place in stages. He said, “Have you ever solved a complex problem by breaking it down and looking at the pieces, and solving one piece first and then another piece and another piece?”

Powell responded, pointing out the council has already made a major commitment.

“We solved a piece,” he said. “We voted to fund $46 million.”

Following Monday’s meeting Overcash stressed that the baseball and related deals would be good for Madison, despite the concerns raised.

“Some folks would like to see more detail, sometimes you just don’t get that,” Overcash said. “You know, some processes you have to accept a little bit of risk from. You can study a problem to death if you want to.”

The development agreement is expected to include Madison agreeing to increase how much tax money Breland will receive as compensation for providing I-565 interchanges and infrastructure to the property.

Under a previous agreement between Madison and Breland, the developer was expected to be paid $22 million out of future property and sales tax revenues for the interchanges. Finley said two weeks ago, the deal could be expanded up to $40 million for the developer for providing additional infrastructure to enable the stadium project.

Finley has said Breland is assuming the risk in the deal, he won’t be paid unless the Town Madison property grows and generates sales and property taxes. – WHNT