City council OKs researching baseball plan

first_imgTuesday’s public forum on baseball canceledThe Vancouver City Council got its first formal presentation Monday on a proposal for the Class A Yakima Bears to move to the city. With the exception of Councilor Pat Campbell, who said “we don’t need a baseball team now,” the council gave City Manager Eric Holmes the OK to research the issue and engage in potential discussions with Clark County. Clark County commissioners are expected to sign a non-binding letter of intent Tuesday with Short Season LLC, the owners of the Yakima Bears. If commissioners sign the letter, the county will want to discuss an interlocal agreement with the city on issues including financing, Holmes said.The proposal includes plans for a $23 million stadium at Clark College and a countywide entertainment admissions tax. Revenues from the tax would pay off construction debt; the stadium would be publicly owned but maintained by Short Season LLC.The county estimates $900,000 could be collected every year. More than half of that would be collected within Vancouver city limits. The tax would raise the price of a $10 movie ticket to $10.50, for example.When councilors asked why any type of public financing was necessary, project manager Mike Thiessen of Short Season LLC said the team would be putting up 30 percent of the construction costs for a stadium it would use 13 percent of the time.The Yakima Bears would play 38 games a summer.Thiessen said a stadium built last year in Illinois used public money, but it came directly out of a city’s general fund.Councilors Larry Smith and Jack Burkman said they wanted to hear alternatives to an admissions tax. They didn’t get any. After the workshop, co-owner K.L. Wombacher said the team does have alternate plans, but they don’t involve the city of Vancouver.“This is our first choice,” said Wombacher, whose team nabbed exclusive negotiating rights to a market that opened up after the Beavers left Portland.The Portland-Vancouver market is the largest metropolitan area in the country without a professional baseball team.“Baseball will return to the area,” Wombacher said. But the team might be in Beaverton, Milwaukie or Portland, he said.“There isn’t a stadium in the country that didn’t use some type of public financing,” Wombacher said. The team’s contract in Yakima doesn’t expire until 2015, but the team wants to take advantage of the opening created by the Beavers.last_img read more