With ballpark upgrades needed and no funds on the horizon, the Inland Empire 66ers (High A; California League) are at a standstill in their lease negotiations with San Bernardino.
The current lease between the city and the team is set to expire after this season, specifically on December 31. As part of the new agreement, the 66ers say they need $2.3 million in capital repair funds for San Manuel Stadium, plus $250,000 for ballpark maintenance.
Some of the repairs outlined focus more on the structural issues at the ballpark, including the exterior stucco and concrete maintenance to the seating bowl. The 66ers are also requesting upgrades to the seating and public address system.
Thus far, the San Bernardino City Council has struggled to produce the funds. Now, however, the city is trying to put the wheels in motion and come up with a solution as quickly as possible. More from the San Bernardino Sun:
The City Council decided Monday to create a three-member committee that will study options for the stadium, noting that information important to their eventual decision wasn’t yet available. That includes the terms of the current lease and a study on the economic impact of the team playing in San Bernardino.
But the decision goes beyond pure dollars and cents, said Councilman Fred Shorett.
“This is a decision about keeping baseball in San Bernardino, is what it comes down to,” Shorett said Monday. “It’s not a revenue generator, exactly, but there are other intangibles we can’t quite put our finger on. I’m concerned about another headline that says ‘Sixers leave San Bernardino.’ We’ve lost how many businesses?”
Like many cities, San Bernardino has faced its financial hardships over the course of this decade. It filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and, while it has been making steady progress, officials feel that the city must be diligent in mapping out any upgrades for San Manuel Stadium.
For the 66ers, the issue is about timing. With the season coming down to its final weeks and the team facing a expiring player development contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the 66ers and the California League would like to have a better sense of the franchise’s status in San Bernardino. Surely, all sides will want to come to a firm conclusion sooner rather than later.