JOPLIN — Joplin Blasters and City of Joplin officials remain in talks concerning the final details of the lease for Joe Becker Stadium, according to media reports.
“We are working on finalizing the details of the contract to get the lease approved,” said Gabriel Suarez, Blasters CEO and general manager, said by an email response to the Miami News-Record.
The Joplin Globe reported Saturday that City Attorney Peter Edwards said last week that terms of the contract were presented to the council on Nov. 16 and a new lease was sent to the baseball team's ownership on Nov. 25, but so far the Blasters have not agreed to sign the agreement.
He told the Globe once there is a signed agreement, it will be presented to the council for discussion and a vote. Edwards did not specify what communications he has had with the Suarez family, who had asked the city to reduce lease payments for the use of Joe Becker Stadium from May through September for independent league play.
Mayor Mike Seibert reported he will work on details of the agreement and it will be on the Jan. 4 council agenda.
On Nov. 15, the council voted 5-2 to consider an ordinance for formal acceptance of the lease, The Globe reported. City staff has twice put the lease ordinance on the agenda and then withdrawn it after the Blasters did not return a signed copy.
The Globe reported terms of the new lease proposed on Nov. 15 was that the Blaster’s rent would be reduced from $150,000 a year to $75,000, with a provision to raise it by $25,000 a year if the Blasters build attendance to a paid average of 3,000. Utility costs would be paid on a sliding scale, with the Blasters paying nothing if average paid attendance is less than 1,500. This year's average paid attendance was 1,038, the city was told.
City Manager Sam Anselm told the council Nov. 15 that the team owners would pay $25,000 of this year's operational costs — $10,000 would be due Dec. 31 and $15,000 by Feb. 1.
While the Blasters must pay for the installation of cables for Internet service the team owners want inside the stadium, the city would agree to fix some problems cited by the Blasters ownership in the lease re-negotiations, reported The Globe.
The city also would give the Blasters control of a city-owned parking lot at which the team could charge for parking. The city prohibits street parking, which is free, around the stadium on the nights of home games.
The Blasters start their second season in the South Division of the American Association of Professional Baseball in May 2016. From May to September, the team will play 50 of their 100 games at Joe Becker Stadium.