September 1, 2014

Elyria
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Avon awards contract to build new ballpark

AVON — The city is a few steps closer to hearing the crack of the bats and smelling the aroma of hot dogs and popcorn fill the stands of the city’s new 5,000-seat minor league ballpark slated to open in June 2009.

During a special City Council meeting Monday night, the city passed legislation approving a contract with Avon Ballpark LLC, the company that will oversee operation of the Frontier League Single-A expansion team, and awarded an $11.3 million bid for construction of the facility.

With ownership groups based in Topeka, Kansas and Chicago, the company has agreed to a 15-year lease, the terms of which call for the firm to pay the city $250,000 at a rate of $50,000 a month for the five months the team will play baseball, according to Avon Mayor Jim Smith.

“In addition to paying us that amount each month, they will do all the maintenance and upkeep.”

The 15-year lease includes three five-year options that could extend the lease to 30 years.

 The company will also invest $2.5 million in equipment, a substantial portion of which will cover the cost of outfitting the ballpark’s kitchens, which will supply everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to catered meals and buffets for the stadium’s 11 loges.

The $2.5 million will also cover the cost of office equipment, computers and phone systems.

The ballpark will be built by Infinity Construction, a Cuyahoga County firm. The $11.3 million bid includes $400,000 for a sophisticated, high-tech scoreboard, but that cost may in the end be paid for by a corporate sponsor whose name would adorn it.

“The figure could go back to $10.9 million, but for now, we’re leaving that ($400,000) in,” said Smith.

The ballpark will be paid for from a 0.25 percent income tax passed by voters in November 2007.

The issue is expected to generate $1.2 million a year for the next 30 years to pay for the stadium, as well as a good portion of the cost of a new regional YMCA, which has a projected price tag of $14.2 million.  

Work to clear the Interstate 90 and state Route 611 site for the ballpark, regarded as the crown jewel of a complex that will include a new YMCA and businesses from restaurants and hotels, began about a month ago.

Smith expects an official groundbreaking within the next couple of weeks.

“They’ve got to be substantially ready to go by June 1, 2009, although they have the option of scheduling some away games for a few weeks if they’re late” completing construction, he said.

Smith said the new stadium should get a real workout hosting not only a standard 48-game Frontier League season, but a large number of high school and college games, in addition to community concerts, as well as larger affairs featuring big-name entertainers.

“The stadium seats 5,000, but for concerts we can put people on the field and that should bring us up to 8,000 to 9,000,” he said. “We still have to work out the details for all of that. This is going to do the whole county a lot of good.”