A report completed by city auditors last summer stalled future ballpark plans for the Vancouver Canadians (Short Season A; Northwest League), including proposed upgrades to Nat Bailey Stadium.
Canadians ownership, led by businessmen Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney, has been working with the city to negotiate terms of a third five-year lease renewal covering the 2017-2022 seasons. The team has had some of its future plans stalled by a report completed last June by city auditors, who raised questions about whether the club was properly following protocols on ballpark maintenance obligations and financial reporting. The audit also recommended that the city wait until the lease is completed before granting the Canadians a permit for a planned seating expansion in right field that would resemble a 2015 upgrade completed in left field.
The Canadians had initially hoped to complete the new seating area by the 2020 season, but will not be able to meet that timeline, as the permit still has not been granted with the lease terms still being negotiated. The Canadians, who said they were surprised by the audit, claim that they have addressed most of the issues that were outlined in the report and are working to wrap up negotiations with the city. More from the Vancouver Sun:
Eight months later, the vast majority of the issues outlined in the audit report have been resolved, Kerr said, including the requested repairs, some of which he said were minor, and increased financial reporting. The city refused to answer questions about the status of the issues mentioned in last year’s audit.
The key remaining issue, Kerr said, is nailing down the rent for the city-owned historic baseball stadium.
A 2012 park board report outlines the key terms of the organization’s agreement with the city at that time, including annual minimum rent of $100,000, plus four per cent of gross revenues beyond $2.5 million.
Kerr declined to discuss the current lease details, saying: “We’re just in the 11th-and-a-half hour of finishing the negotiations on this deal, and it wouldn’t be proper for me to start negotiating through the press.”
The Canadians have built an operation over the years that has been well-received by their fan base, a trend that continued in 2019 when the team led the entire Short Season A classification in attendance. Ballpark upgrades have been a part of the team’s strategy with the aforementioned left-field seating projects being among the notable improvements made to Nat Bailey Stadium in recent years.
Image courtesy Vancouver Canadians.