Red Wings lease with Frontier Field remains unsigned
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - The Rochester Red Wings have a home opener in 11 weeks. Yet the team does not have a lease agreement to play at Frontier Field.
An agreement "in principle" was announced with great fanfare in August.
"Today is certainly a great day for baseball in Monroe County," Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said at the time. Details were not released and it turns out many of them have yet to be worked out five months later.
"We have been trying to work out details of that agreement since then. So far we are still far apart," said Rochester Community Baseball President Naomi Silver.
The Red Wings now have a new landlord and it's Monroe County. According to an audit, the previous landlord - an LDC that managed Frontier Field for 20 years - failed to make payments on debt dating back to the original construction and hasn't collected enough rent nearly every year since.
It's now $32 million in the red, a debt that is growing by $1.3 million a year. Monroe County has proposed doubling the rent from $1 million to $2 million a year.
"We've made it fairly clear what our requirements are in the new lease and what will allow us to continue to be successful," said Silver. We aren't gong to want to take any chances on the future viability of the team."
Monroe County has said it wants to take a look at the books of Rochester Community Baseball to see whether the team needs the break on the rent it has been getting in order to stay viable. That was a sticking point in August and it's not clear if it remains.
Silver points out the team generated $9.5 million a year for Monroe County - the county receives all parking fees and naming rights plus money from advertising, concessions and a portion of the ticket sales.
In a statement Monroe County tells 13 WHAM News, "The parties are still negotiating the details and the county is also hopeful that an agreement will be reached soon."
The Red Wings say the clock is ticking.
"We have concerns there's no question about that," Silver said. "We would certainly hate to go into baseball season without an agreement in place."