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Moorad group, Escondido sign MOU for new ballpark

San Diego PadresA new Triple-A ballpark in Escondido (Cal.) is one step closer to reality after the city and a group led by San Diego Padres owner Jeff Moorad signed a 47-page Memoradum of Understanding for a new ballpark slated to open in 2013. Check it out, as well as our list of highlights.

The City Council will discuss the proposal on Wednesday. Even if the council approves it — and right now approval looks likely, though we’re expecting some tweaks along the way — both sides will have several opportunities to back out before a shovel hits the ground.

Still, the fact that a project given up for dead by many just a month ago is headed for passage is a tribute to the powers of compromise; the original proposal from the Moorad group faced considerable opposition from some key council members, and changes along the way changed some minds. Out of the five council members who will vote on the measure, we count one solid opponent, one solid proponent, two offering qualified support, and one whose vote is not yet known.

The ballpark is being built for the already relocated Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), slated to play the next two seasons at Tuscon Electric Park.

Some highlights from the agreement:

  • The team will pay $200,000 annually in rent, adjusted for inflation every five years. In addition, the team will contribute $150,000 annually toward a capital reserve fund. The team will also be responsible for ballpark maintenance and management.
  • The team will receive all revenues, including proceeds from suites (there will be 14 of them; 10 regular suites, one suite for the team, one for the city, and two group suites) and naming rights (subject to city approval).
  • Construction will begin at the beginning of 2012, with a 2013 season opening.
  • The city will pay $40 million for the ballpark and $50 million on the project. Anything above $40 million will be covered by the team, and the team will contribute $5 million toward a contingency fund covering other overruns.
  • The team will sign a 30-year lease with two five-year options, with all terms and bindings transferable to a new owner.
  • The team will commit to nine non-baseball events per year.
  • The ballpark will have a capacity of 9,000, with 7,500 fixed seats. A club level will contain the suites, two party areas and a lounge.

You can view the MOU here in PDF format.

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