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Petelos expects Barons to stay in Hoover

Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos expects Barons baseball to stay right where it is. "Unless they can build a stadium by March or next year, I don't think they're going to be moving." Petelos said, "All I know is we have a lease agreement that was executed 15 years ago, and we expect the Barons to sign that least agreement for five more years."

Petelos says the Barons have a good deal, but the 15 year contract has a five-year option that the Barons must either keep or walk away from. Rent at Regions Park is just $250,000 a year. The Barons get all ticket sales, concessions, parking, baseball suites and advertising in the outfield.{} Five years ago, Hoover spent six and a half million dollars to upgrade the facility; it spends hundreds of thousands each year for maintenance. Petelos says that is ok because the city has a good deal too. "we like having the baseball in our community."

Former Barons owner, Art Clarkson brought the team back to Birmingham in 1980. He says what Hoover offers is a much better deal than he got from Birmingham when, in 1985, he told city leaders, including then-city councilman William Bell, that the Barons had to leave Rickwood field. Clarkson says he will never forget reading the answer in the newspaper. He says a city councilman was quoted as saying if Art Clarkson wants a new ballpark, we're not going to break our back and he can leave town.{} Clarkson says, "they had the opportunity and they blew it."

Petelos admits he is perplexed that Bell is going after an existing facility. "To me, if they want to build a venue, find something to compliment what's already out there." If Birmingham does get the Barons, it really would not be a bad financial deal for Hoover. The city says it could make more money recruiting other events and not having to work around the Barons schedule. But, Petelos says that is not the plan. "It's like the library. YOu don't make money off the library, but it's a great asset to the city and I view the Barons in the same light."

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