The Onondaga County Legislature has solidified the future of minor league baseball in Syracuse. Lawmakers agreed Tuesday on a new deal for the Syracuse Chiefs to rent the county-owned NBT Bank Stadium for the next decade.
The Chiefs will pay $200,000 a year in rent to Onondaga County under the new contract agreed to by lawmakers. That’s an increase of $44,000 a year. But the county in turn will pay utility and maintenance costs at the stadium for the duration of the deal which runs through 2026. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon expects county costs to be between $150,000 to $250,000 a year.
“It is a concession,” said McMahon. “It is a concession worth making to make sure we have a baseball team here.”
McMahon says it’s a win-win for the Chiefs and for the county.
“They’re about, close to breaking even this year. This concession will help them. And at the same time it’s not going to hurt our existing budget here in the county,” he said.
The team needs the help, because it continues to operate in the red. Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol says this agreement goes a long way to ensuring that the club eventually becomes profitable.
“We would like to get into the black without this, but we still have debt service still on the team,” said Smorol. “So we want to get ourselves in the position to get some relief cut some expenses, and still get capital investment to get more staff on the team to raise the revenues. The goal here is to not only survive, but thrive.”
If the Chiefs do start doing better financially, the agreement stipulates that any club revenue over $3.5 million would be reinvested into the stadium. There’s also a stiff financial penalty if the AAA team leaves town during the life of the deal.