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Joplin city officials disagree over if alternate plans for Joe B - KOAM TV 7

Joplin city officials disagree over if alternate plans for Joe Becker Stadium need to be discussed

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Joplin's mayor says he's willing to put all of his hope into one baseball team to pay back $1.8 million of borrowed money for a new stadium.  The Joplin Blasters and city council members will decide tomorrow whether or not to extend a lease agreement with the Blasters for using Joe Becker Stadium.  Mayor Mike Seibert says there's no need for a "plan B" on using the stadium if there's a new contract deal. 

But some city officials say the lack of an alternative plan gives the Blasters an upper-hand in negotiations with the city.

Three and a half miles away from where the Joplin Blasters play is the home of another baseball team that's been around for the past seven years.

"We're totally different than the Blasters," says Joplin Outlaws President Mark Rains.

Players on the Joplin Outlaws' baseball team are college age.

"So when they go back to school in the fall, they're earning positions with their schools," says Rains.

The city wants the Outlaws to have a backup position to the Blasters baseball team, which is a professional team because its players are paid.  During last Monday's city council work session, parks and recreation workers said if contract negotiations between the Blasters and the city to use Joe Becker Stadium don't work out, the Outlaws could use the stadium instead.

"The Blasters have refused to sign a personal guarantee, which means that in any point in time, if they choose to, they can basically walk away," says Joplin City Councilman Bill Scearce.

The Outlaws' team president says Joe Becker Stadium, centrally-located in Joplin, made the team grow two years ago, when the Outlaws called Joe Becker home.  Attendance at games was about 800.

"Joe Becker was good for us," says Rains.

Last year's games played at Missouri Southern averaged 500 a game, about half of what Joplin's mayor says the Blasters attracted last year.  Though the Outlaws have shown interest in Joe Becker Stadium, things could change if or when the city releases a rent asking price.

There could be both good and challenging news for whichever team uses Joe Becker.

"Joplin has always been a baseball town.  A lot of Cardinal fans, ton of Cardinal fans.  And now with the Royals winning the World Series, there's a lot more Royals fans" says Rains.

Farm teams in Springdale, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri for the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals could be constant competition for Joplin.  The Blasters have not said if they plan on changing ticket marketing campaigns.

Some other proposals talked about:  Having the Joplin Sports Authority look into some new tournaments, and hosting some outdoor concerts at Joe Becker.  Again, these proposals were discussed during a public meeting Monday.  The mayor and other officials did not want to comment until an official vote is taken on the new contract. 

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