After opening the process to open bidding, Sioux City (Iowa) will move forward on negotiations on a new Explorers lease, choosing the American Association submission over one from the summer-collegiate Northwoods League.
The Sioux City Explorers of the MLB Partner League has been leaseholder at Lewis & Clark Park since it opened in 1993, when both the team and the independent Northern League launched. There has been tensions between the city and owner John Roost in recent years, with Roost pointing out some shortcomings in the ballpark (one of which leading the city to install new seating to replace the original seating) and the city deciding to open up the lease to an RFP process, leading to submissions from both the Explorers and the Northwoods League.
The response from the Explorers: a 12-year lease with a base rent of $100,000. The Northwoods League response was different in terms of scope. The summer-collegiate circuit offered $25,000 per year in a lease for an expansion team, rising by 3 percent annually for the 10-year lease, followed by two five-year options with lease terms to be negotiated. The Northwoods League would also place a team in a new summer-collegiate softball league in Sioux City, playing at Hubbard Park, the city’s home for softball (and, given the Iowa location, originally the city’s home for kittenball) since 1940. Both teams would commit to some unspecified ballpark improvements as well.
The difference of $75,000 annually was too much for the city to ignore, as well as the longer American Association season. A city committee recommended negotiations on a new Explorers lease, and yesterday the full City Council authorized staff to negotiate a lease. Since it was part of a consent vote on several items, there was little discussion on the specifics of a lease.