Montgomery Ahead Of Schedule On Riverwalk Stadium Payments

Montgomery Biscuits Approach 5-Year Mark
Montgomery Biscuits Approach 5-Year Mark

In the beginning there were plenty who predicted minor league baseball would strike out in Montgomery.

"Sometimes you have to take a risk," says Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright.

A risk city officials took when they borrowed more than $26 million to build Riverwalk Stadium. To help pay off the loan, the deal called for the Biscuits' owner to pay the city $500,000 at the end of the first season and then a minimum of $350,000 a year after that. The city also levied a lodging tax of two-and-a-half cents on the dollar to help pay down that same loan. That tax generates around $1.5 million a year.

Now 5 years later the team has not only won back-to-back Southern League championships, but the club is bringing in more than 300,000 people a season and so far has been able to pay back the city more than $700,000 a year, twice the minimum payment and knocking down that loan of $26 million to around $16 million.  If the club continues to well the city could very well pay off the loan in less than 10 years.

"It's not vindication but I feel pride. I had no idea it was going to be that successful," said Mayor Bright.

With that success, however, comes the greater challenge for the club. Jim Tocco is the voice of the Montgomery Biscuits.

"If you don't keep it new and fresh, it's going to decline. You got to keep the entertainment new," Tocco said, Director of Broadcasting and Marketing Assistant for the Biscuits.

While the Biscuits are doing well on and off the field, there is a high turnover rate with employees. One reason? Running a double A minor league stadium is hard work.

"It's 15 hour days during the season and when the team travels I go with them," Tocco said.

Hard work or not season 5 is just days away and they have two goals; win another championship and whittle down that debt a little more.