Reno City Council goes back to basics on Aces ballpark deal

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Updated: 11/30/2012 12:06 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- The Reno City Council is going back to the basics of the Reno Aces ballpark restructuring deal. The former city council narrowly approved a new deal to give the owners of the Aces $30 million over 30 years to pay for the stadium construction loan, but the new city council members weren't up to speed on the deal until today.

Staffers from the City Attorney's and City Manager's offices compared the current agreement with the proposed new one.

The timing couldn't be better as the president of the Pacific Coast baseball league sent a letter to Mayor Bob Cashell today stating the league will give the Aces the okay to leave Reno if the new deal doesn't go through - which raises the stakes for the city council to get its bearings on the very complex, very expensive ballpark deal.

"People perceive the new council as not wanting baseball here because of our last meeting and that's not what it is at all," said Councilwoman Hillary Schieve.

Schieve is talking about the council's request to reconsider part of the Aces refinancing deal, which is something the former council approved, but the new council will have to find money for.

"[The] new council coming in got saddled with it and now they want to go back," Mayor Cashell said. "Well, it's hard to go back. You could end up blowing the deal [if] you go too far back."

Veteran Councilman Dwight Dortch says the part of the deal the don't like is taking money from general funds.

"I don't think anyone wants to see them leave, but we've got to be able to do the things that are essential to the city too," Dortch said.

Dortch specificially mentioned services like fire and police protection.

Mayor Bob Cashell wants to move forward.

"Everybody on this council that ran for council said one of their main priorities was creating jobs, so sometimes you gotta invest," Cashell said.

A University of Nevada study shows the area could lose about 675 jobs and 21 million dollars a year if the Aces leave.

Managers and owners of downtown businesses like Slice are expressing concerns to city council members saying the Aces were the bright spot that attracted them to the area in the first place. If this deal doesn't go through, it could mean lights out at Aces ballpark for good.

To many it seems like a no-win situation.

"We're talking about a choice between a million dollars in revenue, or raising ticket prices, or having this team perhaps leave," said Helm Lehmann, an economics and public policy author.

Lehmann says the Diamondbacks should help out.

"Maybe the Diamondbacks agree to a two game home stand against the Giants or the Colorado Rockies or another Major League Baseball team right here," Lehmann said. "Each game could generate, with concessions and $40 ticket prices, about $400,000."

"Those are the kinds of things that we need to hear more of," Schieve said. "The more that people get involved in this process I think the better off we all are as a city."

The refinancing deal will be an agenda item at the city council meeting next Wednesday.

Between now and then SK Baseball is expected to meet with each of the council members one on one to make their case, answer questions and see if there's any room to negotiate some of those outside of the box options.
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