As discussions about a lease extension with the Billings Mustangs (Rookie; Pioneer League) continue, officials are debating what role naming rights will play in ballpark maintenance.
Last fall, it was revealed that Main Street Baseball managing partner Dave Heller was pursuing a lease extension for the Mustangs at Dehler Park. Among the terms proposed at the time included an increase in rent, which would double from $30,000 to $60,000, with the additional revenue being set aside for future ballpark upgrades. The Mustangs also made it known that they were look to secure a handful of upgrades in the near future, including a new kids zone.
Talks have continued into the new year, and were at the center of a four-person city council committee meeting on Tuesday. During that discussion, officials focused on naming rights to certain components of Dehler Park because, even as the ballpark’s name is locked into place, the Mustangs could still seek options for naming rights for other areas of the facility. The city is discussing the possibility of lowering its cut of naming rights revenue in exchange for the team taking on more maintenance-related costs. More from The Billings Gazette:
The committee — council members Shaun Brown, Dick Clark, Larry Brewster and Chris Friedel — decided to ask the Mustangs for 20 percent of the revenue for all naming rights. Those rights include the name of the ballpark itself, which comes back into play in 2032, and for naming rights that will be available later this year, such as for the scoreboard.
In exchange, Brown said the committee “wants to make it clear that if we give up (a higher percentage demand for) the naming rights, they’re responsible for improvements” that Main Street Baseball has said it intends to make. Those improvements include constructing a 3,000-square-foot great room above the concession stands beyond the third-base line for non-baseball, year-round events, and installing a children’s play area and temporary zip line in left field.
Permanent improvements, such as the proposed Great Room, become the property of the city once they’re installed.
Should the Mustangs decide to upgrade the video portion of the scoreboard, the project must be approved by a facility review committee, which includes ballclub and city representation, and ultimately by the city council. Under the proposal, the facility review committee has until Jan. 1, 2020, to evaluate the ballclub’s proposed video screen upgrade and recommend action to the city council.
Officials cited their concerns that the maintenance costs will rise over the years as a reason for focusing on this component of the agreement. Talks are likely to continue, however, as Heller’s scheduled appearance at the meeting was scrapped because of weather-related travel issues.
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