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One bidder emerges for Jackson ballpark lease: Prospect League

Prospect League 250After a summer of the city seeking a new tenant, Jackson (TN) officials are in talks with officials from the summer-collegiate Prospect League about a Ballpark at Jackson lease.

The lease at the ballpark was opened after the city moved to evict the Jackson Generals (Class AA; Southern League) after MLB downsized MiLB from 160 to 120 teams and the Generals lost its affiliation. (Yes, this is a simplification of what was a very complicated situation between the Generals, MiLB and the city.) The Generals fought the eviction, but an arbitrator forced the team from the ballpark, clearing the way for a new tenant.

Under the proposal worked with the city and league officials in initial negotiations, a team would begin play at The Ballpark at Jackson in 2023, but In The Big Inning, LLC–owned by league commissioner Dennis Bastien–would enter a lease for 2022, paying a dollar rent for that first year, with the city covering all operating costs like utilities–and run events in anticipation of play the following year. After that the yearly rent would be $70,000. In a City Council meeting, there was optimism about a new team leasing the ballpark, but several members wanted more information on the specifics of the lease–not necessarily in 2022, when the city has already budgeted to maintain the ballpark, but in 2023 and beyond. From the Jackson Sun:

Some council members expressed uncertainty toward the deal, however, as major operating costs and field equipment needs were left unclear in the contract.  

“We were presented a contract that would bind the city towards certain obligations, but we don’t understand the cost of those obligations,” said District 6 City Council member Paul Taylor. “So one of the things that I asked for—and I asked for this a couple days ago, when we received this contract and I was able to see what we were being obligated towards—was for the city to put together those costs in a spreadsheet so we could see what are our costs and potential revenues to come off this deal, just to make sure we understand all that holistically. We have not understood that in the past. So we need to really dial that in.”

There is the chance that the council may open the process to a second round of the RFP process: Mayor Scott Conger noted that several possible respondents were scared off a submission under the threat of litigation by Generals ownership, per the Sun–something we heard about from potential respondents at the Winter Meetings:

“We opened the Request for Proposal (RFP) up, and our purchasing director was communicating with those who submitted an RFP, and during the process there was a threat from the previous occupants of the stadium that threatened any potential respondent with litigation,” Conger confirmed. “So some of the respondents indicated that ‘Hey, we’re interested in Jackson, but we don’t want to deal with this.’

The topic will be back before the City Council next Tuesday at a 9 a.m. meeting.

RELATED STORIES: Police to oversee remaining Generals tenure in Jackson ballpark; Generals accept arbitration decision, open door to new Partner League lease; City takes control of The Ballpark at Jackson after arbitration winGoldeyes to play in Jackson following agreement with city; Generals announce new league, other ballpark plans–but city has not signed offGoldeyes to begin 2021 season in Jackson

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