The owners of the Reno Aces (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) say they want to refinance debt on Aces Ballpark before some big payments are due in 2014 — and are threatening to pull the team if Washoe County won’t cooperate.
Some big names in the real-estate development world own the Aces and the privately financed ballpark, and they’ve not been afraid to make demands on Washoe County, as well as withhold property-tax payments over a disagreement on the ballpark’s worth. But this move is a dramatic one, usually taken as a final step when no other options are available.
The original financing deal for Aces Ballpark called for debt to be covered with a variety of sources, including a million dollars annually from Reno Redevelopment Agency. Those plans are pretty much shredded now; the owners want $3 million a year, including $750,000 annually from the city’s general fund.
On Tuesday afternoon, those owners — real estate mogul Herb Simon and New York restaurateur Jerry Katzoff — presented the Washoe County Commission with a scenario: Either the $55 million construction loan on Aces Ballpark is refinanced with the help of public dollars or the community could face a potential future where the national championship Reno Aces no longer call Reno home.
“If we cannot work this thing out, I have some tough decisions,” said Simon, the primary financial backer of the stadium deal who has a net worth of $2.2 billion, according to Forbes. “I’m not as young as I used to be, and I got a family I have to consider. And if it’s not viable, I’m in the position now to take a one-time loss, a considerable loss, but something that I can handle.”
You don’t normally see this kind of threat anymore, but this is a unique situation: while the ballpark was privately financed, the plan all along was to use public money to pay down ballpark debt over 30 years, at which time the ballpark would be turned over to the city. Lots of public money has gone into this ballpark already, and it looks like even more will be on tap as well.
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