Friday, April 19, 2013

New 20-year Agreement Lets Durham Bulls Continue to Call DBAP Home

It looks like the summertime refrain "Play Balll" will be heard for another couple of decades as the Durham Bulls renewed their agreement to use the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for another 20 years.

City Manager Tom Bonfield recommended yesterday that the City of Durham continue its long-term relationship with the Durham Bulls by extending the team’s lease of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP), which also restructures each party’s financial obligations. The new agreement, good until 2033, with two additional five-year options for renewal, is projected to save the City about $7.4 million over the life of the lease.

“This new proposed lease agreement is a win-win for the City, the Durham Bulls and most of all, the fans,” Bonfield said. “The DBAP and the Bulls Baseball Club have become synonymous with the success and resurgence of downtown Durham. During the season, the team attracts approximately 500,000 people to downtown with a vibrancy that extends well beyond the boundaries of the ballpark itself.”

“The Durham Bulls Baseball Club and Capitol Broadcasting Company are proud to build on the public-private partnership with the City of Durham that has led to one of the country’s most successful downtown renewals,” said George Habel, Durham Bull’s vice president. “In addition, improvements will help the ballpark remain a premier attraction in a highly competitive market. And the City will no longer bear the responsibility of day-to-day maintenance, moving those chores instead to the Bulls.”

Under the new proposed agreement, operating costs and expenses, which cost the city yearly over $200,000 more than revenues, now becomes the responsibility of the Bulls Club. Additionally, the Bulls will be responsible for maintenance and repair costs up to $200,000 as well as all utility costs.

About $6 million worth of deferred maintenance remains to be done by the City, in addition to nearly $8 million worth of improvements requested by the Bulls. The Bulls will contribute $2 million to the improvements and will be responsible for any cost overruns.

“This new financial model will help pay for debt service and other capital improvements, eliminate the need to use general funds to support the ballparks’ day-to-day operations, and reduce the City’s obligation for future capital repairs and upgrades,” Bonfield said. The current lease agreement was scheduled to end in 2015.

City Council will vote on the proposed agreement, along with a professional services agreement for preconstruction and construction services for DBAP repairs and renovations, at its May 6 meeting at 7 p.m.

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