In addition to hosting the Winnipeg Goldeyes (American Association) this season, the Jackson Generals announced a lineup of other events this year and a launch of a new Southern League in 2022–but the city warns the owners are in violation of their ballpark lease.
As part of the press announcing heralding the move of the Goldeyes to Jackson due to border issues–which we covered yesterday–the Generals also announced a plan for events like concerts at The Ballpark at Jackson. The Generals were part of the Double-A Southern League until the 2020 downsizing of Minor League Baseball, and in subsequent months did not land with an established independent or summer-collegiate league. That left a huge gap in Jackson baseball, with the Generals hosting college and high-school games as well as pro wrestling in March, April in May. The team also dropped this information at the end of the press release:
The Jackson Generals will resume play in a reconstructed Southern League beginning in April 2022. According to Marcus Sabata, the Generals’ General Manager, “The Jackson Generals will return in 2022. We are continuing to iron out structural details, but fans will continue to experience the same top-notch family entertainment and the high-quality brand of professional baseball that they have enjoyed since 1998.” While most of the teams formerly playing in the Southern League have withdrawn from the Southern League and joined the “South League” of Major League Baseball’s new “Professional Development Leagues,” the Generals and at least three other newly admitted franchises will resume play in the Southern League in April 2022.
And, indeed, there are some markets that lost Minor League Baseball–not, however, as part of MiLB’s restructuring–including New Orleans and Mobile–as well as open markets like Selma, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, Warner-Robins and Columbus. None of these markets are particularly close to Jackson, of course, but in the Deep South there are enough markets to make discussions of a reconstituted Southern League interesting over a few beers.
All of this may be moot, however, as the City of Jackson continues to argue that the team’s lease for The Ballpark at Jackson is void because of a clause specifying the presence of Double-A baseball there. These clauses are not uncommon in baseball, at least before the MLB takeover of the sport, and in a press statement the city says it intends to enforce the lease conditions:
Today the Jackson Baseball Club, owner of the former minor league baseball team known as the Jackson Generals, announced that the Ballpark at Jackson will host The Winnipeg (Canada) Goldeyes baseball team for the 2021 season. The Club’s announcement is inaccurate.
The City of Jackson – not the Jackson Baseball Club – owns the Ballpark at Jackson. Under a 2011 Stadium License and Use Agreement, the City gave the Club certain rights to use the stadium. But the Club defaulted under that Agreement when earlier this year it lost its affiliation with AA baseball. Major League Baseball restructured the minor league system, and the Generals were not invited to be a part of the new league, which is called “One Baseball.” Since losing its AA status, the Club has been in material breach of its Agreement with the City.
On March 12, 2021, the City sent the Club notice of the Club’s default and asked the Club to provide evidence that a team with AA status would soon be playing in Jackson. Because the Club was unable to provide this proof, on April 28, the City gave the Club formal notice that, after May 28, the Club will no longer have any rights with respect to the use or occupancy of the stadium. The Club’s purported arrangement with the Canadian team is inconsistent with this reality, and was made without the knowledge or consent of the City as owner of the facility. In short, the Club lacked the authority to enter into the arrangement described in today’s announcement.
The Club’s default under the License Agreement requires the City to take a fresh look at all potential uses for its stadium. The City is in the process of seeking the best possible use of that facility for the citizens of Jackson. The process will be carried out in accordance with state law, the City’s obligations to its citizens, and in the City’s best interests.
Now, it could very well be the Generals are in the best position to meet the criteria of keeping the lease. But the city statement certainly must be causing few cases of heartburn in league and Goldeyes offices–especially with the launch of league play within the month.