Lease deal for Shaw Park delayed again as Goldeyes owner ponders future

By | May 19, 2020

The new lease deal for Shaw Park is going into extra innings and the long game is just one of many worries for Winnipeg Goldeyes owner Sam Katz.

The 2020 season has been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic and Katz has a looming deadline to re-sign his team’s affiliation to the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.

“Time is of the essence at this stage of the game,” Katz said. 

The subject of a renewed lease was supposed to be in front of the city’s property, planning and development committee (PP&D) this week, but it was postponed.

Negotiations for a new lease for Shaw Park have been going on in one form or another since 2016 — without a deal.

“Unfortunately it’s taken a lot longer than anyone would have liked, but patience is a virtue and I do have a lot of patience,” Katz said on Tuesday.

Goldeyes owner Sam Katz says it’s hard to predict when fans will be allowed back and what fears they may have about large gatherings. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Last October the PP&D committee reviewed public service reports on the lease. PP&D ultimately recommended a rental rate of $50,000 per season and a deal where the ball club and the city split the parking lot revenues (which adds up to hundreds of thousands each year) with 90 per cent for the club and 10 per cent for the city.

The current rate in the 25-year lease — which expires in 2023 — is $1, and the Goldeyes retain all the revenue from the parking lots. Both are arrangements Katz would prefer to keep in any new deal.

Substantial increases in rent and losses of revenue could hurt the club, Katz says, especially in an environment where he’s not sure what next season will look like with COVID-19 potentially still a concern for fans.

“It’s going to take a while to bounce back. The fear will be there. It’s not like the flu where you can get a shot. When that exists for COVID-19, I think people will be much more at ease and much more comfortable,” Katz said. 

Katz says the delay in a decision may allow him to update councillors on the state of his business, which he says will suffer some pretty severe losses after many months without revenue.

“We are going to be looking at significant losses, obviously. I don’t think that’s been discussed because that just happened now, in recent times, so I don’t think anyone thought about that,” Katz said.

The Goldeyes owner says he is still paying the bills for the facility, despite having no fans in the stands. 

The City of Winnipeg did not provide a response as to why any further recommendations to the PP&D committee were delayed.

Instead a spokesperson in an email said “the existing lease does not expire until July 27, 2023 and it is anticipated that a report will be provided to committee for consideration in the near future.”

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