On Monday, the Joplin City Council will consider a proposed lease for an independent Southwest League club to play home games at Joe Becker Stadium.
Conceived by Mark Schuster and the Ventura Sports Group, the independent Southwest League is slated to make its debut in 2019 with six teams. While several Texas communities, including Beallmead and Royse City, have been pitched new ballparks for the circuit, the Southwest League is also seeking to establish one of its clubs at Joe Becker Stadium.
Under the terms that are to be considered by the city council, Joplin Sports & Entertainment LLC–an entity set up by Schuster–would enter into a lease to use the facility. The five-year lease for Joe Becker Stadium would begin in January 2019 with a base rent of $35,000, and lead to a Joplin-based Southwest League club playing at the ballpark. In addition, the agreement would allow the organization to oversee other events. More from The Joplin Globe:
Stadium management as well as baseball and events production are the purposes of making the lease a five-year agreement that would allow Ventura to locate business offices in the stadium and handle overall operations there year-round.
Joplin’s parks director, Paul Bloomberg, said that he prefers that arrangement rather than the city juggling the different groups that would use the city’s rebuilt stadium.
“When the league made their presentation to City Council, I was asked if a year-round lease would be preferred. Based on previous experiences, I believe it would be in everyone’s best interests that it would be a year-round lease. It’s better to have one organization that oversees the scheduling of games and events,” Bloomberg said in an email replying to Globe questions.
The lease specifies that Joplin Sports & Entertainment make the stadium available to the Joplin Sports Authority, the Outlaws summer collegiate team, high school baseball and other third-party users on days or times when Schuster’s company will not have a game or event.
If this proposal moves forward, the Southwest League club would become the first professional team to use Joe Becker Stadium since the Joplin Blasters (independent; American Association) ceased operations after the 2016 season. In 2017, the ballpark was used by the Joplin Outlaws (summer collegiate; MINK League).
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