Council Puts Brakes on Millions for Baseball

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RENO, NV -- Comprised of four newly elected councilmembers, the Reno City Council appears to have halted a deal that would have meant thirty million dollars for the Aces baseball stadium. Under the proposal, a million dollars a year would have been paid for thirty years. The City of Reno would have owned the stadium at the end of the commitment.

Councilmember Hillary Schieve called the deal "a bailout." She suggested the issue ought to be put to a public vote.

The ballpark's developer is seeking to refinance construction loans used to build the stadium. While attendance at the Aces games is often high, property tax revenues remain low. A city spokesperson said the "downtown property tax" was meant to help pay for the ballpark's construction.

The one million dollars a year would have been paid from Reno's general fund, which is used to finance daily city operations. The fund pays for police officers and firefighters.

"We want to do everything we can to keep (the ballpark) but I've also got to protect the general fund," councilmember Dwight Dortch said.

"We've had layoffs, we've had our bargaining units give give-backs, we've got five million in deferred maintenance we can't fund," he added.

Thanks to a grant, Dortch said the fire department is fully staffed. However, he said when the grant money runs out, it will open a seven million dollar hole in Reno's budget.

Dortch said he is hopeful another deal with the ballpark developer can be worked out.

The Aces began playing ball in Reno roughly three years ago. At the time, the team agreed to stay in the city for fifteen years.

Jerry Katzoff, one of the developers of the stadium, sent the following statement to KOLO: "After two years of good faith negotiations and hard work by the previous City Council that led to the majority approval and execution by the Mayor of binding recorded and sealed agreements, we are disappointed by yesterday's actions... It is our strong belief that those binding agreements are fully enforceable and will be honored by the City of Reno."