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With final flare of tension, Springfield City Council votes 8-0 to approve $16 million Hammons Field deal

Hammons Field February 2023 amid snowfall
Gregory Holman/KSMU
The City of Springfield announced plans to buy Hammons Field on February 1, 2023. Just two weeks later, City Council voted 8-to-0 to accept the deal.

Just two weeks after its public unveiling, Springfield City Council approved a $16 million deal to buy Hammons Field and a nearby parking lot — but not without a skirmish between two Council members.

At a special Tuesday meeting, Springfield City Councilman Craig Hosmer was the lone holdout on the deal to buy Hammons Field and a nearby parking lot.

Hosmer said the parking lot, priced at $5.5 million, was only appraised at $3 million. He said he liked the rest of the Hammons Field deal, so he made a motion for Council to divvy up the transaction. That would have meant the city could buy just the ballpark, leaving aside the parking lot Hosmer thinks is overpriced.

In Hosmer’s view, the city has more pressing needs than the parking lot transaction. Two members of a Springfield rental tenants' union made similar arguments at a Council meeting last week.

When no other Council members seconded that motion, Hosmer wondered aloud if other council members had considered his proposal outside of a public meeting — a potential no-no under Missouri government meeting law. Here’s an exchange between Hosmer and Mayor Ken McClure.

“I guess, was there a conversation between other members of Council about whether or not there’d be a second?” Hosmer asked.

“No sir, there was not, and that’s an inappropriate question,” McClure replied.

“I don’t think it’s inappropriate at all,” Hosmer said.

The final vote was 8-to-0 in favor of an ordinance authorizing the deal for Hammons Field and the parking lot, and setting up a lease with the minor-league Springfield Cardinals that runs through the end of 2037.

Hosmer voted “present,” a move the city attorney said counted as a recusal from the vote.

In the early 2000s, Hammons Field cost $32 million to build; that amount would be worth about $51 million when calculated in current dollars.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.