Back taxes on Skylands Park, the former home of the New Jersey Cardinals (short season A; NY-Penn League) and Sussex SkyHawks (independent; Can-Am League), are a big problem for ballpark owners, who face a rough road in the near future and prepare for a year without baseball.
There’s a reason you don’t see too many privately owned ballparks: property taxes. In the case of Skylands Park in Sussex County, New Jersey, the yearly property taxes are $121,500, based on a property valuation of $6.7 million. The ballpark is the largest taxpayer in rural Frankford Township, and the owners of the ballpark, Millennium Sports, missed the final payment of 2010. That means the township will auction the debt — some $31,000 — and Millennium will need to make up that amount plus interest to a private interest.
The tax issue may be the final piece of the puzzle in figuring out why baseball hasn’t worked in Skylands Park. There’s always been accusations from team owners that Millennium Sports has been difficult to deal with in terms of unrealistic financial demands, but think about it: we’re talking about a private company whose financial nut includes taxes, debt service and operating costs.
Which is why you don’t see too many privately owned ballparks.
That probably isn’t too much consolation for the ownes of Millennium Sports, who are looking at a year without baseball. Despite what the Millennium folks may tell the local press, there’s no way the NY-Penn League or Can-Am League will be setting up shop at Skylands Park this year: both schedules are set and team lineups are set. And while there’s certainly interest from potential team owners about the facility, the finances may end up scaring off a few potential owners. The status quo cannot stand.
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