The Springfield Cardinals (Class AA; Texas League) have filed a lawsuit against the JQH Trust Fund, alleging that it has failed to live up to its obligations under the Hammons Field lease agreement.
Filed last week against the trust and investment firm JD Holdings, the lawsuit alleges that several terms of an agreement with the Cardinals have been violated. The team claims that fans were price gauged when fees for adjacent ballpark parking lots were increased last season–from $7 to as much as $20 in some cases–and that the trust has fallen behind on needed Hammons Field upgrades, causing it to fail to meet a term in the team’s lease that stipulates that the ballpark’s condition be kept in the top 25% of Texas League facilities.
In addition, it alleges that the trust owes the Cardinals $550,000 in reconciliation payments over the past two years. Representatives of the St. Louis Cardinals–owner and MLB parent of the Springfield Cardinals–say that the condition of Hammons Field is noticeably lagging in comparison to other Texas League facilities, with many areas of the ballpark having not received upgrades since it opened in 2004. More from KY3.com:
The long list of improvements that the Cardinals have been asking for from their landlords would total more than $8 million.
Mike Whittle, the general counsel for the St. Louis Cardinals, admits that what constitutes a first-class facility is subjective but that the stadium is definitely in need of some renovation.
“If you go around and look at the other teams in the Texas League it will be very obvious we have fallen very far behind in terms of the amenities,” Whittle said. “The landlord has an obligation to reimburse us for certain expenses and they’ve failed to do that. There’s also that obligation to provide parking at a reasonable price. In those areas are where we’ve been very disappointed with our lease. We even feel like there are some things that are even substandard in accordance with the minor league standards such as field lighting.”
Whittle also pointed to the need for fixing up the suites that have not been renovated since the stadium opened and improvements to the player clubhouse, meeting and dining areas.
Hammons Field originally opened in 2004, financed by the late John Hammons, owner of the now bankrupt John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts. JD Holdings assumed control of Hammons’ assets as part of a 2018 bankruptcy settlement. The Cardinals have played at Hammons Field since 2005, the franchise’s first season in Springfield after relocating from El Paso.