A new lease for BB&T Ballpark, which would lead to a sale of the Winston-Salem Dash (High Class A; Carolina League) to a group led by the Chicago White Sox, is likely to be approved by the City Council.
The plan calls for the potential new owners of the Dash to invest $8 million into the team; that money would pay down team debt as well as a short-term construction loan. The remaining ballpark debt would be refinanced, and the new owners would control 58 percent of the franchise, with Billy Prim holding the minority stake. The current management team would continue to run the Dash, with a substantial annual rent of $1.8 million.
There are some other adjustments to the lease — a ticket surcharge will be lowered, for example — but the new lease would bring in the city enough to cover debt payments and maybe make a slight profit. But the goal, they say, isn’t to turn a profit on the ballpark lease, but to break even. From the Winston-Salem Journal:
“My responsibility is to make sure the city stays whole in this transaction, and we do,” said Winston-Salem chief financial officer Lisa Saunders. “The bottom line should be a wash. The White Sox are coming to town, they are making this investment, and the city is going to stay whole: The taxpayers aren’t paying a dime.”
Clark said that the new owners wanted “something uncomplicated and straightforward” compared to the myriad of financial arrangements that have covered the ballpark since the 2007 and 2009 agreements.
Clark said he is confident the city will approve the new lease because of the advantages it brings.
A vote is expected tonight on the plan.
RELATED STORIES: White Sox, investors seek to buy Winston-Salem Dash
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