The Chicago White Sox and other outside investors are seeking to buy a majority share of the Winston-Salem Dash (High Class A; Carolina League), subject to a new BB&T Ballpark lease.
According to team president Geoff Lassiter, the White Sox — the Dash’s current parent — and other investors would buy into the team for $7 million and gain majority ownership, with current owner Billy Prim retaining a portion of the club. This is dependent on a new BB&T Ballpark lease that would restructure debt, according to Lassiter:
“The group’s investment in the Dash is contingent upon obtaining a revised long-term lease on the ballpark, which is owned by the city. The city and the Winston-Salem Dash are in negotiations on a new 25-year lease on BB&T Ballpark that includes provisions to restructure the debt on the baseball stadium to better protect the city’s investment. No taxpayer funds will be needed to subsidize the ballpark because stadium lease payments to the City of Winston-Salem by the Dash cover all of the City’s debt obligations on the ballpark.”
Lassiter and other current employees would continue to oversee day-to-day operations of the team and the ballpark.
It was a difficult birth for BB&T Ballpark, taking a year longer than anticipated after problems in the ownership group, with Prim carrying on after Andrew “Flip” Filipowski pulled out. The city had to step in with a financing plan to finish ballpark construction, and this debt is what the new owners seek to change. Essentially, we’re told, an existing $15 million loan would be refinanced and the $7 million invested by White Sox and crew would be reinvested to pay down ballpark debt. The new loan would be paid back by the team at $1.8 million a year for 25 years. If approved by the City Council next week, the new owners could come on board quickly.
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