Despite apprehension on the part of a few local officials, the Syracuse Chiefs (Class AAA; International League) have been granted a lease extension at NBT Bank Stadium.
Last month, it was reported that Chiefs were asking the Onondaga County legislature for a reworked lease. As part of the terms, the Chiefs would extend their stay in Syracuse from 2022 to 2026 while paying a higher amount in annual rent. In turn, the county would be asked to pay for maintenance and utility-related costs at NBT Bank Stadium.
In the end, that was what the Chiefs received. Their annual rent we will be bumped by $44,000–from $136,000 to $200,000. Onondaga County will now pick up maintenance and utilities, which the team says has decreased to $266,000 annually over the last few years.
Ultimately, the Chiefs and the legislatures that voted for the lease agreed that these terms were in the best interest of the Chiefs and the ballpark. However, some remained unswayed. More from Syracuse.com:
Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol said the team is the second most attended sporting attraction in town (behind Syracuse University basketball) and that players and fans contribute to the local economy.
Smorol said the Chiefs’ board has been discussing ways to make sure the team stays in Syracuse.
“We are in the smallest market in all of Triple-A,” he said. “Going forward, getting this kind of relief is critical to keeping the Chiefs here in Syracuse.”
The vote led to a testy exchange between Legislator Kevin Holmquist (R-DeWitt) and several others. Holmquist lamented that all of his questions about the lease had not been answered and that its approval did not go through the proper vetting process.
[legislature chairman Ryan] McMahon responded harshly at one point, telling Holmquist that legislators are not “dancing clowns” subject to answer each of his questions. Legislator John Dougherty (R-Liverpool) chided Holmquist as well, saying legislators have a responsibility to get their own answers, not wait for them to be provided.
As a whole, the legislature was fairly convincing in its support of the lease, which was approved by a 13-to-two margin. The Chiefs also agreed to a penalty that kicks in should the team relocate. Under those terms, the Chiefs would pay $290,00 for each year of the lease that remains, plus 7% interest.
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