Winnipeg Goldeyes’ Shaw Park lease dealt another blow at city’s executive policy committee

The city's executive policy committee voted 4-3 in favour of sending a proposed 15-year lease extension to full city council next week with a recommendation to reject the proposal for Shaw Park. Kurt Brownridge / Global News

The future of the Winnipeg Goldeyes isn’t getting any clearer, at least for another week.

The city’s executive policy committee voted 4-3 in favour of sending a proposed 15-year lease extension to full city council next week with a recommendation to reject the proposal for Shaw Park.

St. Vital councillor Brian Mayes was one of three councillors who supported the proposal — along with St. James councillor Scott Gillingham and North Kildonan councillor Jeff Browaty.

“We’re getting closer to a final vote for Sam Katz and the Goldeyes, but you win some, you lose some.”

Councillors Sherri Rollins, Matt Allard and Cindy Gilroy opposed the plan, with Mayor Brian Bowman joining them, delivering the deciding vote.

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Mayes says the opposed parties want more information on the baseball club’s finances — but he believes the city knows all they need to at this point.

“The admin report indicated any further disclosure would start to get into private business matters, and we couldn’t force them to disclose anymore.”

Mayes also feels that the city isn’t treating similar issues consistently and referenced a deal earlier this summer that saw a Toronto-based developer get a significant investment.

“I felt we’ve already asked for more disclosure than we got from Starlight [Investments], who got a $20-million package from the city back in July.”

Starlight Investments is hoping to embark on an ambitious project to renovate the beleaguered Portage Place mall, just blocks down Portage Avenue from Shaw Park.

The current 25-year deal for the ballpark located at 1 Portage Ave. E. in Winnipeg expires in 2023, and team owner and former Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz says a new deal is necessary to keep the club in the city.

It’s one that sees the team pay just $1 per year in rent — and Mayes says you don’t have to be an economist to think this proposal is a better option.

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The new, 15-year lease would see the Goldeyes pay $75,000 in rent over the first five years; $85,000 in years six to 10; and $95,000 in the final five years of the deal.

It also has two five-year extensions that could be agreed upon by the city and tenant as the expiration date in 2029 draws closer.

The new proposal is also looking to eliminate all previous municipal tax breaks and transfer the team’s two parking lots — along with their revenue — to the civic government.

An earlier city report said the team receives more than $700,000 in annual tax and parking subsidies.

Mayes says the term of the proposed deal is something the city and the baseball team are still apart on, but believes a resolution could be reached before next week.

“That would be a cleaner vote,” Mayes explains. “That vote would be ‘do you want them to stay, or do you want them to go?’ It’s been five years. I hope there will be nine votes (required to approve the proposal).”

There’s also disagreement over the future use of the property located behind home plate at 41 Westbrook Street, in case the city wants to use it for future transit development.

Despite the blow on Tuesday, Mayes is still confident full city council will see his side of things and approve the proposal next week.

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“It certainly is a better lease than what is in place. The downside is we’d end up with an empty ballpark that the city would have to maintain, and we’d lose a couple hundred thousand people who come downtown a year.”

— With files from Brittany Greenslade

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