North Alabama's been without a baseball team for years. Now that might change. Official steps are underway to potentially bring baseball back to the Tennessee Valley.
Sources close to the process with the Southern League have confirmed that exploration rights have been officially approved for the possibility of team ownership. This is the first of three steps for relocation of a minor league franchise.
The team in question for a potential move within the Southern League are the Mobile BayBears.
Former Major League Baseball executive Ralph Nelson is leading a ownership group that has the official exploration rights from the Southern League. These are official rights given to an ownership group to look at cities where a Minor League franchise could potentially locate to.
But that's just one step to relocate a minor league team. Another is the actual sale of the team. The third is approval of the move by the Southern League, along with Minor and Major League Baseball.
The city of Madison is on the top of the list of places the team could go. The other three are Huntsville, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Savannah, Georgia.
Sources close to this process have confirmed that the investment group, led by former major league executive Ralph Nelson, have visited the minor league ballpark in Columbia, South Carolina. The Fireflies play there.
Nelson's team went there to get an idea of what their stadium could resemble if a team relocates to the area.
Sources close to the process have also confirmed that the Town Madison development is a possible destination for a new stadium.
To be clear with these exploration rights, these rights are completely separate from a potential approved sale of a team. But the exploration rights are the first official step in order for the process of team relocation.
Town Madison spokesman Joey Ceci, along with the head of the investment group, Ralph Nelson, both declined comment.
There is plenty more to come in this story, and we'll be the first to alert you to developments.
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