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Kannapolis OKs stadium lease, with reservations

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS — At Monday’s City Council meeting, Kannapolis unanimously approved a new lease for Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium with Kannapolis Intimidators owner Smith Family Baseball.
The lease, retroactive to January 7, changes some aspects of the city’s relationship with the team.
Kannapolis bought out Rowan County’s interest in the stadium last year.
The new lease addresses that fact, and changes some of the details regarding maintenance costs.
But one clause in the new lease gave City Attorney Wally Safrit cause for concern, as he told council members Monday.
Although the lease has been effectively approved, the motion to go forward gave him and City Manager Mike Legg authority to revisit that issue.
The clause in question is the last paragraph of the lease, which states in part:
“The parties (Kannapolis and the team) hereby acknowledge and agree that all rights granted under this Lease are expressly subject to, and must conform with, all baseball rules and regulations…”
That includes all league rules, all Minor League Baseball rules and some agreements made by those bodies.
And, the lease says, Kannapolis must agree to be bound by “any rule, regulation, restriction, guideline, resolution or other requirement issued from time to time by any baseball authority…”
Safrit told council members that could pose a problem if the city is responsible for the cost of compliance.
Safrit said he had spoken with baseball officials who told him the clause was standard, and that the new lease would not be approved by the league unless that clause was included.
As a result, Safrit said another clause has been added specifying that any costs of compliance with those policies will be paid by Smith Family Baseball.
Still, he asked City Council for the ability to research the issue further.
Other changes were described by Legg as beneficial for both the Intimidators and the city.
The Intimidators will pay a token sum of $1 per year to lease the stadium for five years, with two possible five-year renewal periods.
During the next five years, the team will assume some costs of upkeep and maintenance.
Kannapolis will be able to use the stadium for city-sponsored events, and will keep the profits from these, including parking fees.
The Intimidators will keep money from all concession sales, as well as ticket sales and parking fees at baseball events.
The team also receives the naming rights to the stadium, with the expectation that they will be sold to a third party.
No representatives from Smith Family Baseball spoke at Monday’s meeting.
The full text of the lease is a part of the March 26 City Council meeting agenda packet, available online at cityofkannapolis.com.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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