Standoff on ballpark lease continues between Winnipeg and Goldeyes

In baseball terms, the stalemate between the city and the Goldeyes is now in extra extra innings.

The five-year saga to sign a new lease for Shaw Park hit yet another error as city staff said the financial information provided by the ball club “does not represent a full disclosure.”

The information provided to the city says the team lost money in each of the last two years.

The city’s property, planning and development committee asked for the documents earlier this year and in September, councillors on the executive policy committee said they still hadn’t seen the information.

Tension between the city and Goldeyes owner Sam Katz over the lease has been going on for several years, and a new wrinkle was added late last month after it was revealed he had signed a stadium lease to operate a baseball team in Ottawa.

A report to the executive policy committee published this week contains submissions of revenue and expenses from the ball club.

Facility expenses — utilities, maintenance and supplies and wages — on the documents total $741,892 in 2019 and $762,569 in 2018.

Revenue from three parking lots (1 Portage Ave. E., 110 Pioneer Ave. and 41 Westbrook St.) before income taxes was $311,386 for 2019 and $153,813 for 2018.

The club also reported $45,000 a year in revenue from a sign on land at 110 Pioneer Ave.

The Goldeyes organization says they lost $19,526 in 2019 and $137,193 in 2018.

Paul Olafson, Winnipeg’s interim chief financial officer, concluded the Goldeyes weren’t fully disclosing the information the city wants. What was provided did not include financial details from Riverside Park Management, the not-for-profit entity that acts as the bridge company between the city and the baseball club, he said.

“It does not appear that financial information provided includes any financial disclosure concerning Riverside Park Management. As such, a complete review of the revenue of the Winnipeg Goldeyes and Riverside Park Management cannot be completed,” Olafson wrote in the report.

The Goldeyes also didn’t provide financial information about the support the city gave the club through the “historical granting of municipal taxes and entertainment funding taxes under the master lease agreement,” he said.

“We don’t have the full picture.… We don’t have all the information available to us to understand how the operation works,” Olafson told reporters on Wednesday.

Take it or leave it?

The city’s latest offer is a 15-year lease for Shaw Park that would see the team pay annual rent of $75,000 in the first five years, $85,000 in years the following five years and $95,000 in the final years. There are two five-year extensions possible after the 15-year period ends.

The current lease charges $1 per year and expires in three years.

The Goldeyes would continue to receive entertainment tax rebates until fall 2029, then face a review when a similar deal with True North Sports and Entertainment ends.

The city would also gain some revenue from parking on land around the ballpark.

Goldeyes owner Sam Katz has said he needs a lease deal for Shaw Park this fall in order to re-sign his team to the Northern League. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Katz says some of the conditions in the lease are unacceptable. The team must know it will get entertainment tax rebates in the future and needs to retain control over the parking lot, he said in July.

Included in the submissions to the city by the Goldeyes is a report on the contributions the team makes to Winnipeg.

It says the club pays more than $300,000 annually in property and business taxes, generates over $100,000 annually in game-day parking revenue for the city and employs more than 300 full-time and part-time staff, with an annual payroll of $1,700,000.

The report also says the Goldeyes attract more than 270,000 people to the Forks every year and draw thousands of baseball fans from the U.S. to Winnipeg to watch games.

City council finance chair Scott Gillingham (St. James) says he wishes there was more financial information coming from the Goldeyes, but he will vote for a new lease deal in order to keep the team. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Mayor Brian Bowman wasn’t available to comment Wednesday, but finance committee chair Scott Gillingham said he’ll likely vote for the city’s lease offer, despite gaps in the financial details the Goldeyes have offered.

“I don’t know that we are going to get all the information that we would like to have, particularly because some of the information is proprietary. We ultimately have to make a decision on whether or not we want Goldeyes baseball in Winnipeg, and I, for one, would like to see the Goldeyes continue to play,” Gillingam said. 

View original article here Source