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Compromise on the way in SWB ballpark squabble?

PNC Field

Concessions by the New York Yankees and Mandalay Baseball regarding the terms of a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Class AAA; International League) lease may keep the team at a renovated PNC Field for 30 years.

The pair have an option to buy the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and have shown a clear inclination to do so, but a purchase has been delayed after the threat of a legal challenge to the sale. Instead of going ahead with the purchase and facing the inevitable legal challenge, the pair has decided to approach Lackawanna County with a proposed purchase agreement that sweetens the deal for the county and Luzerne County, the owners of the team.

The New York Yankees and Mandalay Baseball still want to see a new ballpark to replace aging and crumbling PNC Field, but they’re willing to sign a 30-year lease to remain in the market, as well as offer the two counties the right of first refusal on a purchase of the SWB Yankees should the pair decide to sell the franchise.

That would appear to address the concerns of Lackawanna County Commissioners, who fear the team could be moved. Some would rather see the team stay owned by the public, though that does nothing to address the ballpark issue. Indeed, the current plan calls for a new ballpark to be funded by the sale of the team for $14.6 million, along with $20 million from the state. (The offer is still on the table, although there’s a definite expiration date: Gov. Ed Rendell is leaving office at the end of the year, and it’s not likely the new incoming Republican governor will be as supportive of new ballparks as Rendell.) The projected cost of a new ballpark is $40 million.

Now, whether these enhanced terms are acceptable to the full Lackawanna County board remains to be seen, though a Monday meeting has been called to discuss them. And the enhanced offer from the Yankees and Mandalay doesn’t address a legal battle between the two counties over how the proceeds of the sale should be distributed. But it does address concerns about the future of the team in the market.

RELATED STORIES: Rendell: Clock is ticking on new SWB ballpark financing; Counties continue spat; SWB Yankees likely to be sold this week; Lackawanna County: In a ballpark bind and mad; Squabbling could derail new SWB Yankees ballpark; Pols: Let’s not fix up PNC Field — or sell team to Mandalay, either

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