Willmar council approves new 10-year lease with Stingers
By Tom Cherveny and Shelby Lindrud email@example.com WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year and it looks like they will be calling Willmar home for at least the next 10 years. The Willmar City Council at Mo...
By Tom Cherveny and Shelby Lindrud
WILLMAR - The Willmar Stingers are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year and it looks like they will be calling Willmar home for at least the next 10 years.
The Willmar City Council at Monday's council meeting approved a new 10-year lease with the baseball team from the Northwoods League, the third lease between the two parties since the team came to town in 2009.
Council members approved the new lease on a unanimous vote, but only after the addition of a friendly amendment to it. Council member Fernando Alvarado asked that the lease include wording to allow the stadium to continue to be available for use for non-baseball activities, along with the VFW, Legion, town team and other baseball uses.
Marck Jerzak, co-owner of the Stingers, said the franchise supported the friendly amendment. He said the stadium currently is available like any other city park, and events ranging from graduations to weddings have been held there.
The motion to approve the lease was offered by Councilor Audrey Nelsen and seconded by Rick Fagerlie. Westside Liquors owner Steve Wright urged the council during the open forum at the meeting's start to support the lease. He called keeping the Stingers in Willmar a "must" for the community. He pointed out that the team attracts thousands of fans to the community.
The Stingers are part of the 22-team Northwoods League. Willmar is the smallest community with a franchise in the league, according to Wright.
The new lease will go into effect on Aug. 25 and expire on Aug. 25, 2029. The first two leases were for five years each, but for the third, the lease length was doubled. Stingers will pay the city $450 per weekday game and $350 per weekend game for use of Bill Taunton Stadium and Baker Field. The rental rate will increase $10 per year for the life of the lease.
The team will be responsible for cleaning the stadium following each game and will also prepare the field for games on the weekends. This will save the city approximately $7,000 a year. In the past the city had been doing the stadium cleanup and all the field preparation. The city will continue to maintain the field.
In exchange for cleaning the facility, the Stingers will get the advertising rights, use of the concession stand and office and storage space at the stadium.
When the new lease was first brought to the Willmar Finance Committee in May, the committee asked for additional language to be added regarding the use and operation of the concession stand at the stadium.
The lease approved Monday says that the Stingers have exclusive rights to operate the concession stand for all events held at the stadium for the life of the lease, unless specifically approved in writing by the Stingers. Other stadium users can contract with the Stingers for concession services during games and events or may operate their own separate concession facilities on facility grounds. During those instances, the concession stand at the stadium will not be open for business.
The new lease also includes language that allows both parties after the first five years of the lease to ask for a lease renegotiation.
The Parks and Recreation Board, the Finance Committee and the Planning Commission all recommended approval of the lease.