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Edmonton won’t renew RE/MAX Field agreement with Prospects after 2019 baseball season

WATCH ABOVE: There are questions about the future of RE/MAX Field, specifically who will be playing in it. It stems from a new city report which says the current agreement with the Edmonton Prospects will not be renewed. Vinesh Pratap reports.

This could be the last season for pro baseball in Edmonton in its current format. The city won’t renew the Prospects’ fifth-year option on its lease of RE/MAX Field after this season.

Instead, a city report shows Edmonton is putting out a request for submissions on a new 10-year lease that would begin in 2020.

READ MORE: Iveson responds to Alomar’s RE/MAX Field letter: ‘There’s no axe hanging over baseball’

“So, that doesn’t exclude [the Prospects] from potentially putting in the new proposal for that 10-year term the city is looking for,” Councillor Andrew Knack said. “But obviously, based on what’s identified in the report, there were some challenges in meeting all of the agreements. I hope we’ll get a little more detail in the meeting.”

The city’s community and public services committee is scheduled to discuss the RE/MAX Field update on April 10.

“Everyone wants to make sure that whatever is happening there in the future, there can be that sort of longer-term certainty,” Knack said.

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“That we know it’s going to be regularly used and active.”

READ MORE: Demolish Telus Field? City looking at all options for West Rossdale redevelopment

“The conversations are happening right now with city staff and the community. But we want to get all that information back before I start saying: ‘The future of that site should be demolished or it should be redeveloped into something else,'” Knack stressed.

“I want to hear from the local community what they feel is needed to help ensure the long-term revitalization of that space.”

Prospects owner Patrick Cassidy sees the move by the city as a double-edged sword. The team suddenly finds itself in the final months of its current lease, but is likely considered to be a front-runner for the new, 10-year deal.

“It’s disappointing on one hand because we had stated we were very interested in exercising that fifth year.

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“I guess, on the other hand, the city is interested looking at moving into a long-term situation with somebody. If that somebody is us then I guess it’s a good thing.”

WATCH BELOW (March 13, 2018): One of baseball’s greats is calling on the Edmonton mayor and council to step to the plate to make sure the doors of RE/MAX Field stay open. Roberto Alomar says the future of baseball in Edmonton depends on it. Kendra Slugoski reports.

‘No axe hanging over baseball’ in Edmonton: Mayor Don Iveson
‘No axe hanging over baseball’ in Edmonton: Mayor Don Iveson
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The city has received unsolicited inquiries from other individuals and organizations interested in operating the ballpark, according to the report. That’s why this new lease opportunity has new criteria attached to it that calls for experience in running a ballpark.

READ MORE: Prospects proving baseball belongs in the heart of Edmonton

Cassidy said the Prospects’ experience should help.

“I’d like to think they’re good. They kind of refer to it there in the report as well that they’ve had some other parties interested in proposing something.

“I have no idea what they’re going to propose — whether that’s just wishful thinking on behalf of somebody — I don’t really know how to read that because we’ve tried to identify where another team could be coming from or materializing, and it just doesn’t seem to make sense anywhere.”

READ MORE: Councillor sees Edmonton gondola as potential key to Rossdale development

The long-range plan for West Rossdale includes new development of something called River Crossing. City council will get more details on that this fall.

Cassidy thinks the ballpark and the new development can co-exist. River Crossing is something to get excited about, he said.

“It’ll be kind of like a summer version of the Ice District. I think a ballpark district is pretty exciting.”

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“The ballpark, and all of the activities that can go on at a facility like that, can only enhance the type of experience that we can create in a location like that. Let’s face it, it’s a beautiful spot and a great location.”

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Telus Field is renamed Re/Max Field

The city worries that new development will eventually take away parking around RE/MAX Field, however Cassidy thinks it can be managed someway, even if a structure is built close by.

The report cites an Insight Community Survey where the importance of retaining RE/MAX Field is mixed, with slightly more thinking it’s “somewhat or very important” than those who are neutral, or those who see it as “somewhat or not important” at all.

WATCH BELOW (Jan. 27, 2015): After years of debate, a proposal to redevelop west Rossdale sits on stand-by. As Vinesh Pratap reports, there are a lot of competing interests.

— With files from Emily Mertz, Global News

RE/MAX Field update – city of Edmonton by Emily Mertz on Scribd

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