The Winston-Salem Dash (High Class A; Carolina League) and Brookstown Development Partners made a scheduled rent payment of $355,053 on BB&T Ballpark yesterday, pushing this year’s payments to almost $1.2 million.
The yearly payments are a combination of rent and ticket surchages imposed when the city financed the final construction of the ballpark.
Critics of the decision to finish funding of BB&T Ballpark were openly skeptical of the team’s ability to repay debt and have been calling for a full accounting of the team’s finances, as typified by this stance. Here’s what we wrote in October:
The issue: when Winston-Salem taxpayers stepped in to fund the construction left on BB&T Ballpark, a citizens committee was formed to oversee the ballpark’s finances. That group has met, and the team has provided financial information per the ballpark agreement. But not all the financial information has been released, as owner Billy Prim and crew have deemed part of it proprietary data not to be released to the public — their right under North Carolina public-records laws. Instead, the committee reported that revenues were slightly lower than expected at the ballpark, but expenditures were trimmed proportionally. And the Dash have made every scheduled payment to the city in terms of rent and ticlet surcharges.
However, the local newspaper want at that data and have filed a request to see records provided to the committee. We would expect the Dash to fight that strongly: baseball teams are loathe to release detailed financial records to anyone save league offices and prospective buyers, especially in a situation where public disclosure wasn’t required. The agendas of some are quite clear: if the Dash is viewed (in their eyes) to be making a disproportional profit, they’ll agitate to raise the rent for the ballpark.
Since then we’ve chatted with some Dash officials; we don’t expect to see any expanded reporting of revenues and profits, especially with the organization making timely payments.
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