Winnipeg city staffers have been directed by a City Council committee to draw up more favorable Shaw Park lease terms, but Winnipeg Goldeyes (independent; American Association) owner Sam Katz did not express optimism about reaching a deal.
The original 25-year land lease for Shaw Park is set to expire on July 27, 2023, but the first round of negotiations did not go well. The city had proposed changing the $1/year basic lease to $150,000 annually, the elimination of the team receiving parking revenue from city-owned lots adjacent to the ballpark (which now totals $342,000 annually), cutting the city a share of naming rights, and eliminating rebates on entertainment taxes on ticket sales. The Goldeyes paid most of the costs ($12 million) of constructing the ballpark ($20 million), with the low land lease and revenue from parking lots designed to reward the ballpark investment group and the risk inherent in bring a new team to town. Now that the team and ballpark are established, city staffers said, Winnipeg should reap the rewards of that investment.
With that original proposal firmly rejected by Katz, a city council committee today directly city staff to revise the terms of a new lease. From the Winnipeg Sun:
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), who chairs the committee, has argued the Goldeyes’ business model has proven viable, so they no longer need a $1-per-year lease for the city land Shaw Park sits on.
But Mayes also argued the city would benefit from securing a new deal with the team, once its current lease expires in July 2023. He said the Goldeyes help make downtown vibrant by attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area each year.
“We could take a very hard line (in negotiations) but then we’d end up with an empty stadium … We’ll keep talking, I think (this) gets us closer,” said Mayes following Monday’s meeting. “I think we made a good faith effort to try and get it resolved.”
Specifically, the committee directed city staff to return to the negotiating table with terms more favourable to the team. Those terms call for the city to charge $50,000 of rent per year, claim 10% (instead of 100%) of the site’s parking revenues and waive a municipal sponsorship policy.
Since the ballpark opened the Goldeyes have paid maintenance and operating costs for Shaw Park, as well as covering property and business taxes (albeit with rebates based on availability for youth and community events). The Goldeyes date back to the second year of the independent Northern League, 1994 — replacing the Rochester Aces in the league lineup — and spent their first five seasons at Winnipeg Stadium.
RELATED STORIES: Winnipeg, Goldeyes At Odds Over Shaw Park Lease