Land adjacent to Seven Peaks Water Park might be a good setting for a baseball stadium, but legal problems associated with the property could make the location too costly for a minor league franchise.

A city task force decided last week that property east of the Seven Peaks parking lot would be the best site in Provo for a minor league baseball park, mainly because of good access and parking.Home plate would be just northeast of the barn-shaped office building that once housed Southern American Insurance. From home plate to center field, the diamond would face southwest. The stadium would likely have 3,500 seats and an outfield berm that would hold another 1,500 fans on busy days.

To have enough property for a stadium, the city would first have to obtain three parcels of land at the site. One is owned by the same group that owns Seven Peaks. The other two, however, are tied up in legal proceedings left over from the financial debacle of former Seven Peaks and Southern American Insurance owners Victor and Suzanne Borcherds.

"I wouldn't call the legal problems minor," Provo Mayor George Stewart said.

The parcel where the barn office sits is the subject of liquidation proceedings in 3rd District Court. For the past several years the Utah Department of Insurance has been liquidating the assets of Southern American Insurance to pay millions of dollars in debts.

Liquidators were given court approval to accept an offer made recently by the city, but the ruling has been challenged in the Utah Court of Appeals. An Arizona company that submitted a bid several years ago believes its offer to purchase the land is binding. It challenges the court's decision to accept other offers.

The other parcel, located southeast of the barn, is tied up in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The city has also made an offer to purchase that land, but the court hasn't ruled on the offer. This parcel also has a mechanic's lien attached to it that will likely exceed the value of the land. Those holding the lien could foreclose on the land and take it out of bankruptcy court.

Both legal cases would have to be resolved before the city could purchase the land needed for a stadium. If the city wants the land badly enough, it can probably get it. But the process might be lengthy, and the city could find itself in a bidding war that would escalate the price.

"We're trying to maximize the amount of money we can obtain from that property, and whomever wants to buy it must address that issue," said Craig Carlile, liquidation attorney for Southern American Insurance.

Higher stadium costs could prevent minor league baseball from coming to Provo. The group of businessman Doug Foxley, which owns an option to relocate a Pioneer League team to Provo, made its plans around a $6 million stadium to replace Timp Field at North Park. Straying from those plans means a more expensive stadium or one with fewer seats. Both prospects trouble the Foxley group.

"The cost of the land and who would pay that added amount is something we're very concerned about," said John Ward, Foxley group spokesman.

The mayor agrees that the city lost its most secure spot when neighborhood opposition caused officials to abandon the Timp Field location. A new stadium at any other site will likely cost more or mean an alteration in design.

"The only site we have control over is North Park," Stewart said.

The city still supports Foxley's group, the mayor said. However, if the city can't build a stadium that would meet Foxley's financial needs, then it would search for a new group of owners. If new owners can't be found, plans for minor league baseball in Provo would be abandoned.

"At one point I thought we could build a stadium whether we got a team or not, but the costs of operating a stadium are just too great," Stewart said. "We won't build a stadium unless we have a team."

Salt Lake Buzz owner Joe Buzas, who owns the territorial rights to professional baseball in Utah County, is reportedly interested in placing a professional team in Provo. However, because of a legal dispute arising out of the Buzz's displacement of the Salt Lake Trappers, it's unlikely that Pioneer League officials would ever give approval to a Buzas-owned team.