Sides: County can't accept $75,000 again for stadium lease
By Frank DeLoache
A delegation of Rowan County commissioners had a cordial meeting with Smith Family Baseball Thursday while delivering a firm message:
The county can’t continue giving the baseball team a half-price discount to use Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium.
An attorney for Smith Family Baseball had written the county, asking commissioners to continue leasing the stadium to the team for $75,000 a year, which is half the $150,000-plus specified in the team’s lease. The county also is currently paying all the utilities, but the team is handling landscaping and maintenance.
Commissioners Jim Sides and Tina Hall, appointed by Chairman Arnold Chamberlain as a committee on the lease, met with Brad Smith, of Smith Family Baseball, at stadium offices Thursday afternoon.
“I told Brad that we weren’t there to dictate, but we had a lease agreement” that would pay the county “considerably more than $75,000,” Sides said later Thursday.
“We said we weren’t willing to settle for $75,000, that we could accept a fixed amount but something considerably more.”
And the commissioners asked Smith to make another offer.
Sides said he’s hoping the baseball team will offer somewhere in the range of $125,000.
“Brad (Smith) is always a gentleman,” Side said. “Nobody’s mad at anybody. The situation that the Smiths are in, they certainly have done a good job. They have made a lot of repairs. They spent $150,000 of their own money on a new sign.
“… If we are going to have a tenant, I don’t believe we could find a better tenant than the Smiths. They are super-nice people.”
Smith Family Baseball’s lease of the stadium stretches until 2015, and the county had given the team the half-price break for the past three years.
As part of Thursday’s discussion, Sides said he and Hall indicated they wanted the team to take back, per the lease, its responsibility for paying the phone and electric bills. The lease provides for the county to pay the water and sewer expenses.
The Smiths also want to keep responsibility for landscaping and maintenance “because they can do it on their schedule and keep the place neat. And we might do a little less than what they might do.”
Added Sides: “We want the best deal we can get for them and the taxpayers.”
Contact Frank DeLoache at 704-797-4245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.