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Fisher Cats pitch ballpark improvements, lease extension

New Hampshire Fisher CatsThe New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Class AA; Eastern League) are offering to extend their Northeast Delta Dental Stadium lease through 2035 if the city agrees to spend money on what both sides agree are needed improvements.

The upgrades aren’t sexy — a new fire suppression system and an upgraded playing field — but they’ve already been approved by a city committee, and right now the decision is whether to bond the $1 million it would cost for both or to find that amount in existing funds. But owner Art Solomon is proposing a lease overhaul that would expand the amount of money available for capital improvements while also keeping the team in Manchester for at least seven years past the lease expiration in 2028. From the Union Leader:

The city’s deal with the stadium ends when the stadium bonds are fully paid off, projected to be in 2028. The team currently pays a $730,000 rent-like payment plus another $167,627 a year to cover stadium building costs it agreed to pay beyond the $25 million stadium project.

Solomon, whose tenure as owner of the club began in 2005 after the stadium was built, offered to pay the city $500,000 a year in rent beginning in 2029, if city officials commit to earmark half that amount for a capital reserve fund to be used for stadium maintenance.

As noted, both sides agree that the ballpark improvements proposed by the team are necessary; the issue is how to pay for them. But the question is whether the city wants to agree to an extension so far out.

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