The Lancaster Barnstormers (independent; Atlantic League) have accepted a restructured lease offer from Lancaster County, reducing the team’s rent at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Last week, Lancaster County commissioners voted to authorize a reworked lease agreement with Lancaster Baseball LLC. Per the terms of that proposal, Lancaster County will offer a loan $450,000 per year for six years, amounting to $2.7 million in assistance.
Commissioners floated this plan as a more affordable alternative to what the Barnstormers had previously proposed, which was that the county contribute $650,000 toward the annual rent for nine years. When the Barnstormers ownership first presented this plan in September, it said that assistance was needed because the team’s $1.1 annual rent was a major source of continuing financial difficulties.
While the counteroffer from Lancaster County was lower than the team’s original proposal, the Barnstormers opted to take the deal. More from Lancaster Online:
Even so, Lancaster Baseball LLC co-owner Ian Ruzow said he and his three partners were “pleased with the offer and look forward to continuing to work with the county in this public-private partnership.
“This is a win for our community and the continued economic rebirth of our region,” said Ruzow, in a prepared statement.
And despite deep red ink, the partners say they’re eschewing ways to squeeze fans and employees such as raising ticket prices, cutting wages or slashing personnel. Rather, they want to enrich the fan experience. Post-game concerts are among the possibilities.
“While (the rent-assistance package) is not everything they wanted,” said Commissioners Chairman Dennis Stuckey, “it is something and an offer in good faith to get them to a point where they can assume responsibility for the team independently and hopefully run it as a profitable business.”
For the time being, the plan is for Lancaster County to redirect savings from refinancing a 2009 bond issue, though it is still exploring the potential use of Pennsylvania’s City Revitalization & Improvement Zone program. The agreement takes effect starting in 2017.