Elections have consequences: the new majority on the Reno City Council voted to rescind a deal paying $1 million annually for 30 years to address debt on Aces Ballpark, home of the Reno Aces (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League).
The vote wasn't close -- 6-1 -- and it came after new members of the City Council expressed fears that backing such a large debt with general funds could lead to a future downgrade in Reno's credit ranking. Now, it's not clear what will come next: the city could decide it's not in the business of paying down ballpark debt, or it could come up with a different revenue stream to raise a million dollars annually.
It was a pretty dramatic move for new members of the City Council to make, but not unexpected: the four new members had telegraphed their opposition to the deal as it stood. They were joined in their opposition by members of the Washoe County Board of Commissioners, who had put off a decision on a contribution to ballpark debt and criticized the earlier City Council decision to back ballpark debt.
The issue arose after the owners of the Aces, SK Baseball, threatened to sell the team if the $55-million ballpark debt wasn't assumed by the city and county. It's been a contentious process -- normally owners don't threaten to move a team three years after a ballpark opens -- but mall scion and billionaire Herb Simon made it pretty clear he didn't mind losing tens of millions on the ballpark deal if he could avoid further losses. It's not entirely sure what will come next: attorneys for the Aces are already arguing that the previous deal was legally binding and nonrescindable. And that $55 million construction loan isn't going away.
RELATED STORIES: Washoe County balking at Aces ballpark subsidy; Reno approves ballpark bailout; Aces owners: Refinance ballpark or we'll move team; Aces, Washoe County continue debate over property taxes
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