On Friday, Pensacola’s Blue Wahoos, will deliver a check for $491,602 to the Executive Committee of the CMPA. This payment is in addition to the over $200,000 the team has previously contributed to the CMPA this year, which brings the total revenue paid to the City in 2013 to $699,823.
The operating budget for the CMPA is $820,000, plus a capital reserve of $182,000. The Wahoos check tomorrow is covering 60 percent of the CMPA’s operating budget and also half of the entire CMPA budget. Parking fees should contribute this year another $200,000, based on past collections. Wahoos will write another check next summer for a minimum of $175,000. I estimated the cash coming from the park will be around $866,602.
That leaves the CMPA and the city, who operates the park, to come up with another $135,000 in revenue from other events to cover the balance of the capital reserves.
According to a Wahoo’s press release, only the Birmingham Barons pay more in use fees than the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Barons will pay only an estimated $20,000 more than the Wahoos this year, despite having a brand-new, publicly-funded $39 million stadium that seats 10,000 fans and has 26 revenue-producing suites. In comparison, the home stadium of the Blue Wahoos seats just over 5,000 with no suites, and cost $15 million in public money and $3 million in private donations.
When calculated on a per-seat basis, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos pay more per seat than any other team in the Southern League – over three times the league average and almost twice as much per seat as Birmingham.
“This is the most aggressive use agreement for any City in the Southern League, on a per-seat basis,” said Blue Wahoos owner Quint Studer. “The City Administration and CMPA should be commended for bringing this type of agreement to closure just 18 months ago. We are very hopeful that the City and CMPA will be successful with the entire Maritime Park project, from the amphitheater to the private development parcels to special events, and we are doing our part to make this a long-term, ‘win-win’ relationship.”
Studer also noted that the Blue Wahoos, like any business, have a balancing act between expenses like use fees, ticket prices for fans, and quality service from employees.
“Thanks to our fans and sponsors, we have been able to continue to offer family-friendly entertainment, good jobs to our community, and bring thousands of people downtown to shop and eat every game night,” said Studer. “We’ve been recognized as not only a great stadium, but a great, fan-friendly operation, as well as the top community-service ball club in the Southern League. But we have to ensure that we keep our ticket prices low and our attendance high to continue offering this great experience for supporters, ticket holders, non-profit groups and sponsors, as well as providing the CMPA with much-needed revenue.”
The CMPA Executive Committee meeting will be held on Friday, Nov. 8 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall.