Montgomery Biscuits give rise to city's hope for new facility

Biscuits GM Greg Rauch says the game is cheaper than a movie ticket, and fans are listening.
Biscuits GM Greg Rauch says the game is cheaper than a movie ticket, and fans are listening.

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - When Montgomery city leaders borrowed $26 million to build Riverwalk Stadium critics said it wouldn't work. The debt payment is around $1.2 million a year and baseball officials initially estimated the season average would be around 250,000 people a year.

"We think it's turned out well for everybody," said General Manager Greg Rauch.

So far so good. The Biscuits are ahead of the game on paying down the debt. In fact, the team is now averaging between 280,000 and 300,000 people per season.

All this is happening despite a punishing recession.

"With tickets being $8 a piece we're still cheaper than the movies," Rauch reminded everyone.

Rauch says the front office is already making plans to replace the 7-year-old scoreboard in left field with a new one in a couple of years. A new scoreboard will cost at least $700,000.

While the team hasn't produced a championship every season, the Biscuits financial model is turning out to be an inspiration for the newly-created Central Alabama Sports Commission.

"They built it, they came," said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.

Mayor Strange says the city and the commission are seriously looking at building a multi-purpose indoor facility to accommodate sporting events such as volleyball and wrestling tournaments, similar to what the city of Pelham, a city outside of Birmingham, is doing.

One option in making the indoor facility a reality is borrowing 12 to 13 million dollars, something the mayor says the city could do considering the news he got just this week.

"Yesterday our bond rating improved from Double A to Double A Plus," said Mayor Strange.

One way or the other the mayor believes a definitive decision on whether to go forward with the proposed indoor athletic center will come in about 90 days.

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