With the current land lease set to expire in 2023, the city of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Goldeyes (independent; American Association) ownership are set to discuss whether to extend the current $1/year lease.
The Goldeyes lease the land for $1 annually but paid for most of the costs of the $20 million ballpark, while also paying property and business taxes of $300,000 annually. Some council members argue that the lease is worth more than $1 annually, saying that the ballpark’s location (north of the popular Forks civic area and within a short walk of Portage and Main) should be worthy of more than that minimal amount.
Goldeyes owner (and former Winnipeg mayor) Sam Katz says discussions of a lease extension are worthy of discussion, as he’d like to make some plan for future investments in things like ballpark upgrades and a new scoreboard. From the Winnipeg Sun:
[Katz] said the Goldeyes recently hired a consultant to review how the ballpark’s municipal arrangement compares with those of its counterparts in other cities. Katz said that study found those who pay more to lease land often had also received capital support and tax breaks that the Goldeyes didn’t get.
“In most other ballparks, because we are the exception to the rule, the city built the ballpark and then they would charge the rent,” he said.
Katz declined to weigh in on whether he’d argue that the $1-per-year lease should continue.
“It’s not what any individual, including me, thinks is fair. It’s what the numbers and comparing it to all the other venues (determines) is fair and reasonable,” he said.
Shaw Park has certainly been an asset to Winnipeg: the Goldeyes continue to be a major draw. There will probably be some sort of public sentiment for increased lease costs — $1 a year is a red flag to many voters — but the lease costs need to be weighed against other ballpark costs borne by the team.