As part of a pitch for a long-term lease extension, the Edmonton Prospects (summer collegiate; Western Canadian Baseball League) are floating up to C$3.25 million in RE/MAX Field upgrades.
Formerly known as Telus Field, RE/MAX Field opened in 1995 as an affiliated Minor League Baseball facility for the Edmonton Trappers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). It has not hosted an affiliated MiLB team since the Trappers moved to Round Rock, TX after the 2004 season, but is currently used for summer-collegiate action by the Prospects.
The Prospects are tenants of the city under a lease that expires after the 2019 season and plan to submit a proposal that calls for $2.75-$3.25 million in ballpark upgrades in exchange for a 25-year lease extension. Improvements would be aimed at modernizing outdated areas of the facility–such as replacing existing lighting with LED and installing new artificial turf–while addressing fan amenities through upgrades such as a new kids zone and a renovated Home Plate Lounge.
The lease extension is a contingency for the Prospects and owner Patrick Cassidy to finance the improvements, however, as the investment would need to be part of a long-term agreement with the city. Thus far the city has not committed to a lease extension and has floated the possibility of seeking proposals for the ballpark, but officials do seem open to discussions with the Prospects. More from the Daily Herald Tribune:
“We just feel we’ve got a great opportunity here to do something with what’s available,” [Cassidy] said. “The Western Canadian Baseball League, formerly the WMBL, the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League, it’s been around for 80 years, so it’s not going anywhere. And it continues to grow.”
At the same time, the Prospects say they must address sustainability through energy inefficiencies and upgrades to the field to enhance the fan experience in order to compete for their entertainment dollars.
“I’m grateful the Prospects have been such a great partner for us for the last several years,” Edmonton mayor Don Iveson said. “Obviously, we are continuing negotiation with them and any other perspective tenants on how to best leverage the ball diamond. It will be a decision for council in the fullness of time, that’s not for me to negotiate in public.
“But their willingness and their eagerness to work with us, I think, is a really good sign that hopefully we’ll be able to make something creative and lasting happen with the ballpark. So that’s what council’s been waiting to see, if that could develop.”
RE/MAX Field is currently included on our Endangered Ballparks list. As it outlines long-term plans for the West Rossdale neighborhood, the city will have to decide how the ballpark fits into the area’s future. Affiliated baseball is highly unlikely to ever return, but the Prospects would provide an opportunity for continued use of RE/MAX Field. Should the Prospects remain, it stands reason that the facility could be significantly modernized from its largely unchanged 1990’s-era design for Triple-A baseball and altered to meet current needs.