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Details of SWB Yanks ballpark lease emerge

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre YankeesThe Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Class AAA; International League) will cover cost overruns and contribute to future maintenance of PNC Field while paying higher rent, as details of a new lease becomes public.

Lackwanna County and the Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority will be considering a proposed lease for a renovated PNC Field; Mandalay Baseball Properties and the New York Yankees are buying the SWB Yankees for $14.6 million and then committing to a 30-year for PNC Field, which will be renovated this year before a grand reopening in 2013. 

The new lease and sales agreement were delayed by negotiations over the terms, and in the end Lackawanna County got some fair concessions from the SWB Yankees. The first, agreeing to cover cost overruns on a new ballpark, is fairly standard in new-ballpark construction: it ensures a fixed cost for the stadium authority but still gives the Yanks flexibility to add new features as ballpark construction begins. (Which happened already: the Yankees want larger dugouts than was originally specified by architect Ewing Cole.)

The second, agreeing to help pay maintenance costs on the new ballpark during the course of the lease, is a pretty major concession: usually a chunk of a team’s rent payment is set aside for maintenance, not treated as a separate expense unless the rent is reduced accordingly. Over 30 years the stadium authority will set aside $15 million for capital improvements; any amount past that must be picked up by the team.

With the delays, the cost of the ballpark renovation has risen to $42 million. The authority will borrow more to cover the cost; the Yankees also agreed to increase their yearly rent to $900,000.

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