Morelle calls on Monroe County and the Red Wings to reach a lease deal
State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle wants Monroe County and the Rochester Red Wings to reach a new long-term lease deal soon.
"This is not only about the psychology of Rochester, it's not only about the entertainment value, this is about how taxpayers are protected," he said.
In August, it appeared the two parties had reached a deal, but it's still in limbo.
Morelle has sent a letter to both parties saying that he supports a request from Rochester Community Baseball for $6 million dollars in state funding to improve Frontier Field.
But that funding, and any possible additional funding from the state, is contingent on working out a long-term lease agreement.
"Here we are, five months after the County had announced they reached an agreement with the Red Wings on a long-term lease, without the lease executed. We can't begin to consider additional state funding for a facility that does not have a long-term lease," he said.
Morelle says the county is still paying off debt for the construction of Frontier Field.
If the Red Wings left, it would result in essentially an empty facility, and taxpayers would be obligated to pay that debt.
Monroe County spokesman Jesse Sleezer issued this statement:
“At the request of the team’s attorneys, Monroe County yesterday sent an updated draft of a new long-term lease for the team’s final review. The proposed lease is the product of joint negotiations and reinforces the County’s commitment to keeping the Red Wings in Rochester for years to come. The County eagerly awaits the team’s response.”
And Red Wings President and CEO Naomi Silver also issued a statement:
"Nothing is new. We will again work on a proposal they can take to the legislature at their next meeting. Then it will be up to the leg to decide to keep Red Wings baseball or not.
We are not in a position to accept their financial proposal, and we need their commitment to make the capital improvements to Frontier Field that the engineers have said they must.
I also should add that I very much appreciate Assemblyman Morrele’s support, and willingness to mediate, if necessary."
Randy Mobley is the president of the International League.
He indicates that the league will likely now have to get more active in the process over the Red Wings situation.
He says their home opener is April 6th, but the league needs to know well before that date if a contract for the stadium is in place..
“We can’t take it up until the day before opening day, so, I’m approaching a position where I’m going to have to establish some type of deadlines so that we know we have some certainty, or we’ll have to implement alternative plans," he told WXXI News.
And Mobley says those alternative plans could involve moving some Red Wings games to another location until the contract issue is resolved.