Joplin, MO officials have terminated a Joe Becker Stadium lease agreement with the Joplin Miners (independent; Southwest League), but are still interested in obtaining professional baseball.
The Miners were slated to be part of the upstart Southwest League, an independent circuit conceived by Mark Schuster and the Ventura Sports Group. Plans for the league had called for a 2019 launch with six teams (the Miners are among the four that were previously announced), with every team except for the Miners based in Texas. However, it was revealed last month that Miners ownership Joplin Sports & Entertainment–an entity that includes Schuster–had defaulted on its lease with the city after missing a $35,000 rent payment.
The Joplin City Council voted earlier this month to terminate the club’s lease. While that decision ended the city’s previous agreement with the Miners, officials emphasized that they are still interested in bringing professional baseball back to Joe Becker Stadium. That could perhaps include a new agreement with Schuster, who indicated last month that he is not giving up on the Miners. More from the Joplin Globe:
City Manager Sam Anselm said the door is open to all offers, including another one from the organization that did not pay the $35,000 due last month for use of the stadium this year. That organization is Ventura Sports Group of Texas, which also formed an entity named Joplin Sports & Entertainment to lease the stadium and stage baseball games and events there. Ventura is forming the Southwest League of Professional Baseball.
Mark Schuster, the managing partner of those organizations, said Jan. 25 the reason for the default is that the league had not come together as quickly as he had hoped. He told city officials last year he intends to start the league with five teams in Texas and a team here that his organization has named the Joplin Miners.
He has been working on securing stadiums in Texas for league play there and has agreements to put teams in Waco and Royse City, Texas.
“I still feel hopeful for Joplin,” Schuster said last month after the default. “I am not giving up on the Joplin Miners. I’ve committed almost four years of my professional life to this league. I’m still hopeful we can still make this a reality.”
Joe Becker Stadium has been without professional baseball since the end of the Joplin Blasters (independent; American Association), who arrived to the facility in 2015 after a $4.7 million renovation only to cease operations following the 2016 season. In recent years, it has remained active for other uses–including home games for the Joplin Outlaws (summer collegiate; MINK League) and high school sports.
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