A Southwest League team is one step closer to occupying Joe Becker Stadium, as the Joplin City Council approved a lease agreement on Monday.
Conceived by Mark Schuster and the Ventura Sports Group, the independent Southwest League is slated to make its debut in 2019 with six teams. Many of those teams will be based in Texas–where communities such as Beallmead and Royse City have been pitched new ballparks–but the league has been pursuing a plan to place one of its clubs at Joplin, MO’s Joe Becker Stadium.
As was noted here Monday, Joplin Sports & Entertainment LLC–an entity set up by Schuster–was seeking to enter into a five-year lease for the facility that would begin in 2019. The city council ultimately approved the lease with a few amendments, including one that sets an October 15 termination date if the league is not ready to launch. More from The Joplin Globe:
Additionally, a specific rate structure for other organizations to hold events at the stadium is to be added to the lease agreement. A few dates that the city could use the stadium at no charge or minimal charge also are to be inserted.
“This lease is set up to give Joplin Sports and Entertainment the keys to the stadium,” City Attorney Peter Edwards told the council. City staff recommended having one group in charge of managing the stadium and the scheduling of events rather than the city trying to coordinate the baseball league and others who used the stadium.
Edwards said Schuster is trying to complete details of his proposed startup Southwest League. Schuster said he can start the league with four teams but wants to start play in 2019 with six teams. The other teams would be in Texas.
Once it begins play, the Joplin-based Southwest League club would be the first professional team to call Joe Becker Stadium home 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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