The Community Maritime Park Associates Board of Trustees passed on July 16 a motion on that the use fees paid by the Blue Wahoos, Pensacola’s Double A minor league baseball team were insufficient and the Northwest Florida Professional Baseball (NFPB), the team’s owner, had failed to its “best efforts “ to amend its contract with CMPA to cover the agency’s budget shortfall.
The four days after the vote, Lisa Minshew, the CMPA’s attorney, sent to Quint Studer, the managing partner of NFPB, a certified letter demanding a meeting with James J. Reeves, CMPA board chairman, within 30 days to discuss amending the team’s use agreement to cover “monetary deficiencies” retroactive to July 20. Minshew wrote that the shortfall for CMPA attributed to the baseball operations was $69,267 for the current fiscal year.
The 30-day deadline passed with no amendments made to the use agreement and no lawsuits filed against NFPB or Studer.
On August 27, Studer’s attorney, Scott Remington of Clark, Partington, Hart, Larry, Bond & Stackhouse, made a presentation to the CMPA board. He argued that the CMPA staff had manipulated the costs associated with the Maritime Park to make it appear that professional baseball was costing more than the revenue it brought into the CMPA.
Reeves and the CMPA staff attributed all the property taxes, $122,637, to the stadium and the Wahoos. Remington pointed out that the Community Redevelopment Agency recaptures $48,401 of the property taxes and that should have been credited against the total taxes assessed.
The CMPA also tried to place the entire cost of insurance on the team, $157,000, and Remington pointed out that the CMPA is required by contract to pay for both the general liability and casualty at the park. The team provides its own liquor liability insurance and has exclusive use of only 14 percent of the stadium. He argued that the team should only be assessed $22,000 of the insurance, 14 percent.
The CMPA tagged the baseball team with 75-percent of the grounds maintenance for the entire maritime park. The team has its own grounds crew that maintains the field during baseball. Remington said that the team is not required by its contract to pay any of $83,659 of The Wallace Company contract. However, he said it would not be unreasonable to attribute 14-percent to the team as he recommended for the insurance costs.
Remington said that if the CMPA board properly allocated the property taxes, insurance and grounds maintenance the baseball portion of its operations, which attributes annually $688,142 to the CMPA, then the baseball operations would be shown operating at a $182,217 surplus for the CMPA.
The CMPA voted to take Remington’s analysis under advisement. This issue will be brought back up later this month.
PNJ cartoonist Andy Marlette offered his observations of the meeting in the Sunday edition – “CMPA’s shell game“:
“Instead of fighting to squeeze a few more drops out of the Wahoos, maybe the CMPA should go find some other milk cows,” said Marlette. “They certainly have some empty parcels of grass down there to put them on.”