In what is looking like more good news for United League Baseball, a real estate and sports group has purchased a large development site near the Trinity River in downtown Dallas. The new owners of the 60-acre property on Industrial Boulevard are hoping to construct a $500 million dollar mulit-functional project, which is anchored by a minor league baseball stadium, early next year.
The parties involved in this purchase are ones you are familiar with, if you have been following the recent posts on the GM’s Perspective; “Welcome the Coastal Bend Thunder” and “United League Baseball To Return for 2009 Season”, John Bryant and Byron Pierce and their company, the Reunion Sports Group LLC. Joining them in the purchase is Oak Cliff developer Richard Seib.
The purchase was sparked with the talk of foreclosure on the aforementioned piece of land by lenders. According to the Dallas News, in a recent conversation with Matt Holley, a local builder who works with Sieb on a $200 million development project, the La Reunion Town Center Project in Oak Cliff, there is still plenty of work to do, “We are very excited about the opportunity to develop this property”. In addition, what is the projected timeline for the minor-league caliber stadium to be operational? “Our intention is for the ballpark to be up and operational in 2010.”
This is some very exciting news, for a league that has gone through a rollercoaster ride in the last two to three months. From the two former owners winning the rights, in a Dallas Federal Court, to buy back the league; they once owned, from their former partners who were claiming bankruptcy. Couple that with the news that the Coastal Bend Thunder will be the sixth team in the league, it is only getting more interesting.
The financing has not yet been arranged for much of the development, but the project will be privately funded. According to Pierce, the ballpark is on track for a May 2010 opening and the timing for this project could not be better, considering the rising popularity of minor league baseball today, “We think it’s one of the best markets in the U.S. for a minor league baseball park,” he said. “The movement for minor league baseball now is to come into the large metropolitan areas. “Businesses are moving back into the downtown area, bringing young professionals and families.”
While the popularity of the game will bring the fans to the stadium, this project will be more than that, the entire project is looking to include the above-mentioned stadium, hotel, water park, 2,500 apartments, retail and restaurants. A pedestrian bridge and walkway will connect the project to the nearby Cedars DART rail station. Here is an artists rendering of what the stadium has the potential to look like.
The area that the park will be located in benefits from its close proximity to the Dallas Convention Center. Minor League Baseball can only produce so much revenue, and with the numerous amount of teams in Texas, you have to have another revenue stream. “Seib said in a prepared statement “that to succeed, a convention hotel has to have vibrant adjacent area containing multiple entertainment venues and options, which is, in turn, made more successful by proximity to the convention hotel. That’s what we are developing.”
According to the Dallas News, the complex will be a tremendous boost for the economy and the resurection of an old industrial area into one with new housing and new projects. This location was considered for the new Dallas Cowboys stadium before the Arlington site was chosen.
The United League may not be on a lot of people’s radar, though a salvation from bankruptcy, a 60-acre, $500 million dollar project and two former owners, who have taken everyone by storm, can only mean good things for a professional baseball league once on the brink of disaster.
Devon Teeple is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.