City of Joplin responsible for renovations to Joe Becker Stadium - KOAM TV 7

City of Joplin responsible for renovations to Joe Becker Stadium on property the city already owns

Joplin city officials say they are not pledging any more money in a new lease for Joe Becker Stadium, other than what was agreed to previously.
The entity and the elements in the 20-year lease are the same as the previous, just under a different name, Pro Baseball Management, LLC, due to developer Michael Wray leaving the agreement.
The City of Joplin will borrow $1.8 million for the project, which city officials say will be balanced out by the baseball group's lease payments of around $150,000 a year.
"Assuming that the team stays for the full 20 years and everything goes well, it should balance out," said city attorney Brian Head.
City officials say they will be responsible for renovations to the property the city already owns, beginning the work on the field and the stadium itself.
"Even if the team were to go away for some reason, the city would still have the asset of the stadium and we'll still have spent taxpayer dollars on the asset that the city and the citizens own," Head said.
The city says $4 million is required to cover the cost of those renovations.
"It's going to go into upgrading Joe Becker so the facility is up to pro baseball standards, meaning lighting, seating, fields, club houses, bathrooms, things like that," said Matt LaBranche, Executive Vice President, Pro Baseball Management.
Matt LaBranche says Pro Baseball Management's end of the agreement is to operate the team.
They have already purchased, and broken ground on land adjacent to the stadium for parking.
LaBranche says their focus right now is to get the team going, in hopes of bringing in more developers later on.
"We've spoken to a few at this point and they've all expressed a great deal of interest but they're all telling us the same thing, to get the baseball up and running, basically bring the people to the area and (they) will come," he said.
City officials say they are confident this is an investment which will pay off.
"These folks really seem to be down to earth folks who really have the best of intentions and have a plan that if we follow the plan, we should be seeing baseball," Head said.
Now that the lease is authorized, the next step for Pro Management Baseball LLC will be to finalize seating and architectural plans.
All renovations are expected to be finished by next Spring.
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