We’ll see a summer-collegiate Prospect League team in The Ballpark at Jackson in 2023, as league commissioner Dennis Bastien signs an eight-year lease to occupy the former home of the Jackson Generals (Class AA; Southern League).
The Big Inning, LLC–owned by league commissioner Dennis Bastien and wife Lisa Bastien–will occupy the ballpark come Jan. 1, 2022, and spend the first year operating events and developing a marketing plan for the Prospect League team, which will launch in 2023. The City Council vote approving the lease today comes after months of intrigue surrounding the ballpark, with the city moving to evict the Generals based on the team’s loss of affiliation, among other things.
The terms of the lease: for 2022 the Prospect League team will pay only $1 in rent; in 2023 the rent will increase to $70,000 per year. The city will continue subsidizing the ballpark operations, an amount estimated by one City Council member to be between $600,000 and $750,000 annually, totaling an estimated $5.6 million over the course of the lease. (These are unverified figures generated by an opponent of the lease, so be warned.) Objections on the City Council weren’t necessarily directed toward the Prospect League, but rather toward Mayor Scott Conger and what they saw as a rushed approach toward the ballpark lease, given that the city won’t see a team until 2022 and potentially other bidders could be attracted. From WBBJ:
“It’s a historic issue with the City of Jackson. I mean, this has happened for years, and years, and years, and years, and years, even before this council and this administration was here. It’s been 11th hour politics. You know, we get something and we push it and we say we have to decide today. We have to decide before the end of the year. There’s always a deadline that we have to decide by, and we’re always given things at the last minute,” said City Councilman Paul Taylor.
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