The Mobile BayBears minor league baseball team is up for sale, Southern League officials confirmed Wednesday, and at least one potential buyer wants to move the team out of the Port City.
League officials are evaluating a potential buyer for the team, a process which could take up to two months, AL.com reported Wednesday. Huntsville, Ala.-based WHNT reported Tuesday that an Arizona-based investment group was interested in relocating the team to the Huntsville metropolitan area.
Located just 60 miles to the west, Mobile is the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ nearest rival. The BayBears have played in Mobile for 20 years, but in each of the last two years the team has drawn the lowest attendance in the league. In 2016, the BayBears drew just 96,185 fans, compared to the Wahoos’ total attendance of 302,340.
WHNT reported that the investment group is looking at six different stadium sites in three states, including the options of either leaving the team in Mobile or moving it to a yet-to-be-built stadium that could anchor the massive 530-acre Town Madison development, located just outside of Huntsville in nearby Madison. Other cities reportedly being considered by the investment group include Savannah, Ga. and Baton Rouge, La.
Huntsville is no stranger to Southern League baseball, having been home to the Huntsville Stars from 1985 to 2014, when the team moved to Biloxi, Miss. and became the Biloxi Shuckers.
Even if a sale goes through, however, it’s likely that the team will remain in Mobile for at least another season. The process for minor league teams to relocate is lengthy, requiring approval from the Southern League’s board of directors as well as both Minor League and Major League Baseball officials. That, combined with the time needed to build a new stadium could push any move into the 2019 season or beyond. The BayBears’ lease on the city-owned Hank Aaron Stadium runs through March 2022.