By Bill Short
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Bethany Huffman and seconded by Alderman Thomas McGhee.
Millington owns eight parcels of land totaling approximately 124 acres at 8 Babe Howard Ave., that collectively are known as the USA Stadium Complex.
At an April 29 special called meeting, the board voted unanimously to declare the complex “surplus property,” so it could be sold or leased.
The city advertised for bids on the property that would include the intended use and proposed lease or purchase terms.
Bids to purchase the complex were submitted by WBM LLC, doing business as Watazumi Beach Millington, for $1.2 million; and Kevin Kennedy for $1.5 million.
The resolution states that Kennedy’s bid is the best one submitted “in terms of price and proposed use.”
Millington has always viewed the USA Stadium Complex as a method of bringing visitors to the city to use its hotels, restaurants and other stores.
But it operates the stadium along with other activities that annually cost a total of approximately $150,000 more than related revenues collected.
The board had determined that the property needs “significant renovations and/or maintenance” that would “place a further burden” on the city’s resources.
So, it decided to reduce the “taxpayer burden” by encouraging private owners to further develop the property as a “recreational area.”
The resolution states that Kennedy and his investors will establish a limited liability corporation to own and operate the complex.
He plans to restore USA Stadium to its original condition and to construct “numerous” additional ball fields at the complex, with a dome over two fields.
Kennedy also plans to “market” the complex for competitive baseball and softball tournaments for children aged 7-12 and to expand current uses of existing competitions at USA Stadium.
In a related action on Monday night, the board voted unanimously to rescind a resolution adopted at its May 13 meeting that approved a bid offered by WBM to lease the complex.
The company had proposed a 10-year lease that included its right to purchase the property at a specified price at any time during the life of the lease.
The rescinding resolution states that the lease was never signed by Mayor Terry Jones because of “various issues” related to:
(1) zoning conditions on the land;
(2) WBM’s proposed development of the property; and
(3) the company’s subsequent indication of a desire to “switch to an outright purchase.”
WBM had planned to create a “multi-dimensional family entertainment venue” on the property that would have included swimming areas, water slides, lazy rivers, ziplines and ropes courses. It also would have hosted events, such as the Flag City Freedom Celebration and the International Goat Days Festival.