How to repair, upgrade Blue Wahoo Stadium

According to estimates, the City of Pensacola faces nearly $2 million in repairs and upgrades at Blue Wahoo Stadium  – $1,975,300.  The majority of the capital expenditures – $1,916,500 – are Major League Baseball requirements, such as installing new MLB standards for the playing field, stadium lights, and bullpens.

The repairs are items the city should have created a capital reserve to handle, such as seating, painting and elevator repairs – $58,800.

The Pensacola City Council will discuss at today’s agenda review Mayor Grover Robinson’s recommendation: “That City Council approve Amendment No. 5 to the Northwest Florida Professional Baseball LLC (NFPB) lease agreement for the stadium at the Vince S. Whibbs Community Maritime Park (CMP), which provides for the redistribution of park revenues, the shift of responsibility for maintenance and capital improvements, and extends the lease for an additional two 5-year terms. Further, that City Council authorize the Mayor to execute all necessary documents related to the implementation of this lease amendment.”

Rather than the city use its reserves or borrowing the funds, the mayor is proposing that the Pensacola Blue Wahoos pay for the capital improvements and be repaid by shifting some of the stadium’s revenues – $532,997 – and parking, $129,042 to the team. The team would also pick up several operational expenses – $333,929.   A net cash flow increase of $328,109 annually to the team – which would let the team re-coup its capital expenditures in about six years.

In turn, the Blue Wahoos will agree to sign a new lease for two 5-year terms.

The city has four other options:

  1. Find the $1.975 million and have the team sign a five-year lease.
  2. Borrow the money and pay it back in five years. Team signs a five-year lease and renegotiates in 2026.
  3. Borrow the money and pay it back in 10 years. Teams signs two five-year leases.
  4. Don’t make the capital improvements and lose MLB affiliated team.
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2 thoughts on “How to repair, upgrade Blue Wahoo Stadium

  1. Option 5 – Let the “for-profit” Blue Wahoos buy Blue Wahoos Stadium named for them and run it like a business. Within Studer, Inc.’s vast business empire, the deep pockets are owned by Studer Properties. The City could sell them the stadium to Studer Properties that would began to pay property taxes. Studer Properties would also pay for all of the upkeep and maintenance on the stadium, pay for all of the utilities, and lease it out for whatever purpose they wanted. Quint Studer who owns both Studer Properties and the Blue Wahoos could lease the stadium to the Wahoos for $1 a year for year-round access or for access just during the baseball season. Studer Entertainment might want the major lease to host the non-major league baseball events now already held all throughout the year. I have no idea what the stadium is worth but an independent appraiser could come up with a current market value. I bet that it has greatly appreciated in value especially now that it has a baseball team that has to use it. The City holds all the cards on this deal. If the Blue Wahoos “walk,” another MLB baseball team may want to buy the stadium. It is a very nice stadium with a great view. No money would have to exchange hands upfront. Studer Properties could pledge some of its vast holdings, picked by the City, as collateral for the amount owed for the stadium. To reduce the cost, Mr. Studer could give the ECUA site to the City that made a big mistake when ECUA tried to give it to the City in 2008 or 2009. It would be a great site for a massive downtown park near the waterfront for public use. If anyone ever asked city residents they might tell us what they would want done with the ECUA site. A real “win-win” Option 5 would be for Studer Properties to agree to fund the City’s construction of the Community Maritime Park’s planned but never built to date 976-space structured parking garage that should have been built first before the stadium. There are almost certainly other vital site projects that the City wants to build and would, sooner, if someone else borrowed the money and paid back the loan. In sum, Options 1-3 are bad for the City but all good for Mr. Studer. Option 4 is a distractor much like when Mr. Studer falsely threatened to move his Southtowne Project to Montgomery if Pensacola did not agree to pay for the project’s parking structure that the city was told would be open for public use but is not. Option 5 is best for the City, even better if we get the ECUA land as part of the deal, and gives Mr. Studer a home for his baseball team that he can decorate anyway he wants. Yes, if the Blue Wahoos were run like a real business the team might have to charge a more realistic ticket price but business is business.

  2. I thought there was a reserve for capital replacements in the original development deal with the CMPA. If that is correct where’s that money?

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