With the Rochester Red Wings (Class AAA; International League) and Monroe County still negotiating a Frontier Field lease for 2018 and beyond, relocating the team during the season isn’t totally out of the question, says league president Randy Mobley — though highly unlikely.
The Red Wings and Monroe County officials announced a new 10-year lease last August, but negotiations since then have not yielded a final agreement. That means the Red Wings are reduced to working on a month-t0-month lease for Frontier Field — a situation that the team and the league don’t see as ideal, obviously. One way this could play out, Mobley says, is the league stepping in to make changes. From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:
“If it came to the point where we had to relocate a ball club, we would be able to do that,” International League President Randy Mobley said. “That’s a fact.”…
The lack of a long-term lease presents a problem because the league can’t afford a situation in which one of its 14 teams can’t finish the season. Opening Day is April 6. The scheduling has been completed. Travel arrangements have been made.
“If you play it out to the one end of the spectrum, it means the league can revoke the franchise and take possession of it and relocate it and do whatever needs to be done to ensure it can play somewhere,” Mobley said.
“That’s the nuclear option,” he added. “But it can go to that extreme.”
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the league looked at new homes for the Red Wings last year before the county and the team announced a new 10-year lease. That lease would see the Red Wings paying more on the new lease, but Monroe County wants even more revenue to totally cover the $8 million in debt still to be paid back between now and 2024. And, of course, by operating on a month-to-month lease, the Red Wings could indeed be moved at any point. Obviously that would be bad news for Monroe County, which would be on the hook for that $8 million of debt without a paying tenant.
The Red Wings have played at Frontier Field since 1997.