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Bellmead: No Final Decision on Waco BlueCats Ballpark

Waco BlueCatsBellmead officials are still debating the merits of a Waco BlueCats (independent; Southwest League) ballpark funding plan, but city officials say there’s no final plan or timeline to completing the task.

A May 5 referendum, asking voters to approve a hike in the hotel tax to cover ballpark maintenance, is still in the works. A rough funding plan for the $12 million project — $4 million from the city of Bellmead via the hotel tax, $4 million from private investors and $3 million in naming rights, with another $1 million to be determined — is in place. The Ventura Sports Group would oversee the ballpark as the anchor for a Bellmead entertainment district anchored by the ballpark, but would also include other events and offerings.

But there are plenty of final details to be worked out, as Bellmead officials want more information from Ventura Sports Group. They want to see a more fleshed-out plan for six teams in the independent Southwest League by 2019 (so far only Waco and Royse City are announced as being members of the circuit, with negotiations for a Joplin lease and three more potential markets in the works), they want to see some guarantee should the BlueCats not survive, and they want to see specifics about who owns the ballpark. Still, Ventura Sports Group is providing a slew of lease information, and talks continue. From the Waco Tribune:

City Manager Bo Thomas said he does not have a timeline as to when the city would draw up and approve the necessary agreements.

“I’m not going to have a development or operation agreement until the time I know there’s a number of communities committed to the same project we’re committed to,” Thomas said. “Two communities don’t make a league.”…

Ventura would receive all ticket sales, concessions, rental fees, and revenue from licensing, advertising and naming rights, as well as rent from the associated 40,000 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space at the “ballpark village.”

Bellmead would receive a fee of 75 cents added on to every paid ticket, generating some $125,000 to $175,000 per year, according to Schuster’s estimates.

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