Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - The 20-year lease for Frontier Field was announced on Monday - just one month before the Red Wings' home opener. It's a home the new lease requires them to share.
Monroe County taxpayers are still paying for the building of Frontier Field as well as maintenance costs. Now they will be able to use the facility for other events and allow the county to earn some of that money back.
The Monroe County Legislature approved the measure in a unanimous vote Tuesday night.
For 20 years, the Red Wings have called Frontier Field home. Yet taxpayers still owe $6 million from the original construction which will be paid off six years from now. While the new lease does not change that, it does shift some costs away from taxpayers.
"Frankly, it's a whole new structure and a whole new relationship," said Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo.
For example, maintenance costs will now be split. Rochester Community Baseball will pay to maintain team areas (called "Exclusive Areas" in the contract) including the dug out, field, Walk of Fame, Club House and lobby. In exchange Monroe County turns over concession equipment to allow RCB to run concessions and gift shops. RCB will pay for maintaining the equipment and restaurants and keep all of the profit.
Taxpayers will do what they always have - maintain the building structure which they own - and continue to collect most of the parking revenue and a fee for each ticket purchased.
Dinolfo said the lease eliminated the overhead and costs of the LDC that once ran the operation as the county's "middle man." Taxpayers will save $320,000 a year in debt service and other costs. The county estimates other restructuring in the lease will save up to an additional $300,000 per year but some of that is contingent on variable costs such as the number of tickets sold. "We have seen some shifting of expenses with the Red Wings taking on the expense of the operation of Frontier Field," said Dinolfo. "When we look at the bottom line the county will be significantly better off."
On many a game day, Rochester Community Baseball already hosts concerts, fireworks and family events. Under this lease, Monroe County will be able to do the same.
"It's about opportunities for revenue which could potentially be held at the stadium," said Dinolfo. "The county [will be] utilizing the stadium itself as a community asset off season."
The lease calls for the RCB to have a say in these events particularly in the timing of them. RCB will run the concessions for these events and keep the profits.
"We looked at every aspect of the lease and have shifted some of the expenses to the Red Wings for the operation of Frontier Field," said Dinolfo.
The full lease can be read below: