Tonight sometime between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time, the Columbus City Council will take up a vote to ratify the proposal to renovate Mapfre Stadium. This is but one piece of the puzzle to ultimately Save The Crew.
The final piece involves the construction of a new stadium to house the team. The prospective ownership group, headed by Pete Edwards and Jimmy Haslam, released renderings on Thursday which showed what a new home for a team would look like.
Pretty pictures aside, an agreement with the City of Columbus and Franklin County is also needed to finalize this deal. And pursuant to the vote scheduled for today, a Memorandum of Understanding between the ownership group and government officials has been released, which outlines what a deal will look like. Let’s take a look.
The MOU opens up with a brief recitation of the background in this saga, and notes an important deadline regarding an agreement between the parties.
As Alex Fischer noted last week, this is being done on a tight deadline; MLS wants at least a preliminary agreement wrapped up by 12/31/18. Whether the signing on the MOU qualifies as such is unknown, but it would seem to be the case, based on what a source told me.
The proposal is outlined as follows:
This incorporates everything to be developed as a result of the MOU. The scale of the project is obviously impressive, and based on the public comments from the hearing last week, was well received.
The features of the project are described below:
Not much new here. The job estimates are always a bit twitchy, but I think municipalities have gotten better about not over-promising on the so-called “economic impact” of these types of projects.
Next, the rubber meets the road, as we get into the commitments from each side to this deal. Or, if you’re a parent when your child comes to you with a question, “what is this going to cost me?” Let’s take a look at the bill:
So it does look like about $140 million in total public contribution. $100 million was the original reported number, and here we’ve got $50 million from the City and $45 million from the County. This $45 million from “other public sources” is probably going to be subject to some concern, but let’s see where that goes. To be clear though, this additional funding does not come from the City or County.
Once this passes, the parties will be on a relatively tight timeline to get this before MLS.
Additional commitments from Haslam/Edwards and MLS to the City will require significant investment and non-relocation language, as well as community benefits and prevailing wages.
The relocation provision is hardly a surprise. Notwithstanding the Modell law, which you *may* have seen me cover, by far the better way to prevent these relocations is by contract. Just ask the Chicago Fire.
The City of Columbus will be responsible for acquiring the land necessary to facilitate this agreement. This is, however, inclusive of the $50 million commitment, sources tell me.
There were reports that Columbus would be “donating” city-owned land, so we’ll need to get some clarification on the land that is owned by the city (if any), and what additional acreage needs to be acquired to facilitate the project.
As for additional Franklin County commitments, we get a further description of that $2.5 million which was referenced above. It doesn’t appear that it is at this point mandatory.
I’m trying to get some additional clarification on this portion of the agreement, and will update when I hear back. But it appears to simply be an alternative way of financing their commitment.
A couple of final notes. A lease/development agreement is contemplated in the MOU for a fixed term, which a couple of extensions exercisable by Haslam/Edwards. Also, the land will not be owned by Haslam/Edwards, which means no taxes. However, there will be rental payments.
Finally, this MOU is “non-binding” and merely an agreement to agree.
Now that doesn’t mean that either side can simply walk away at this point. Specifically, we’re referring to MLS here, as the City/County would be extremely unlikely to decide to jump ship, since that would mean the loss of the team. I am surprised by the non-binding nature of this agreement. If MLS were worried about the City/County not being able to meet its commitments, they could have put in a provision allowing an “out” in the event funding was not secured. Another question to follow up with.
Lastly, the specs on the project are outlined below. No comment on this, as I’m not a city planner or architect.
So there is the proposed MOU. It’s fair to say there will be a lot of talking points regarding the public contributions. However, if the City/County can get this signed, it seems that the sale will be able to be finalized. The hearing this evening should be interesting. Stay tuned.