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I promised to wrap up the Subsidy
Saga this week. But, I found a
second article. Solution:
Run both articles for Flashback Friday this week and get back to the on the field stuff
next week. Simple. Elegant. Like me.
Last week on Subsidy
Editor John L. Paustian had written a column that laid out arguments to continue
the subsidy to assist Appleton Baseball Inc. with maintenance to Goodland Field.
This was in response to Part
I and Part
It was noted that the decision to eliminate the subsidy had been referred back
to the Parks and Recreation Commission by the full Common Council on March 18.
The Parks and Recreation Commission took up the issue again on April 21.
David Horst has the story from the April 22 edition of The Post-Crescent.
New decision backs funding for Goodland
A unanimous decision that would have ended a payment to the Appleton Foxes for
maintenance and utilities at Goodland Field was reversed Tuesday by the Appleton
Parks and Recreation Commission.
Appleton attorney A. Gerard Patterson, president of Appleton Baseball Club Inc.,
which owns the Class A minor league team, said of the decision, "I'm
certainly happy with this, but it's not the end."
The Common Council is to vote o the commission's new recommendation May 6.
Patterson told the commission that the present arrangement is a partnership that
saves the city money in maintenance costs while at the same time providing
inexpensive entertainment for residents.
"We think that Goodland Field is good for the community, and I don't think
anyone disputes that," Patterson said.
Ald. James Smits disputed whether it is good enough for the city to contribute
city property taxes. The Foxes
already use the field with no rental charge and that is subsidy enough, he said.
Under a contract with the Appleton Baseball Club, the city is to pay $24,000
this year and $23,000 in 1988 in consideration for city uses of the park and
contributions toward maintenance and utility bills which are paid by the club.
Patterson said the city paid more than $55,000 a year to maintain Goodland
before entering into the contract with the Club.
Appleton Baseball has used the city payments and its own revenues to make
improvements, such as a new outfield fence and new infield, and plans to
continue capital improvements including a new outfield, backstop fencing and
netting, lights, electrical wiring, and parking lot pavement.
If the city payments end, he said, the club won't have money left after paying
salaries and utility bills to make any further improvements.
The Foxes probably could play there for as long as seven years before
lack of maintenance would become a severe impairment, he said.
"Without some kind of consideration from the city, we are going to be able to
do less and less. It just seems like
too good a deal to let it go."
He listed other cities in the Midwest League which are making large investments
in ballfields to get or keep minor league teams - $5.2 million in South Bend,
Ind.; $3.7 million in Kane County, Ill.; $150,000
in the Quad Cities and Wisconsin Rapids.
Pat Schinabeck, committee chairman, said she would like to get more public
comment before deciding to cut off the payment.
She said she had difficulty justifying using tax money to support the
operation as something the community wants, when the team's ticket revenues
can't support it.
"It seems to me if the public really wants the Foxes here, they'll come to
the ballpark and buy a ticket to support you," she told Patterson.
However, she said, before ending the payment, the city should have a plan for
what it would do with Goodland Field if it gets the ballpark back.
"Nothing," Smits responded. "Board
In the end, the commission voted 3-1 to deny a resolution to end payment to
Appleton Baseball after the contract expires in 1988.
The same resolution had been approved unanimously by the commission March
10 but was referred back by the Common Council.
Even if the council now supports taking no action to end the payment, the club
and the city will have to negotiate a new arrangement before the present
contract expires after the 1988 season.
So, the Common Council met on
May 6. Bob Lowe has the results of
that meeting in the May 7, 1987 PC.
Goodland Field subsidy sustained
By a vote of 17-3, the Appleton Common Council Wednesday refused to discontinue
the city's subsidy to the Appleton Baseball Club Inc., after the lease
agreement expires in 1988.
The city currently pays the Appleton Foxes' parent company $24,000.
The subsidy is to be reduced to $23,000 next year.
In exchange, the city gets to use the park and the club pays for maintenance and
A. Gerard Patterson, president of the club, said this contribution is a small
price to pay for the positive things the baseball club does for the city.
The club's annual budget is $250,000, which has a multiplier effect of seven
times that amount in the community, according to the Fox Cities Chamber of
Commerce and Industry. In addition,
players spend thousands of dollars for rent, cars, food and entertainment.
Patterson said other cities spend up to $150,000 or more for baseball clubs.
"Wisconsin Rapids which doesn't even have a team in the league, is committed
to spend $100,000 to $150,000 in hopes of getting a minor league team in their
city," Patterson said.
But Ald. Jim Smits said the only reason the club needs this subsidy is because
"they don't have fan support."
He said the land on which Goodland Field sits is valued at about $1 million and
can be rented out at $100,000 a year. "And
we let them use it for nothing. We
don't charge them any rent at all. That,
in effect, subsidizes some millionaire baseball owner."
He said the Oshkosh- and Appleton-based Wisconsin Flyers semi-professional
basketball team, which recently announced that it is moving to Rochester, Minn.,
had an average attendance of 1,000 per game, which is more than the Foxes can
"However, they paid their rent," Smits said.
"They didn't come to the Oshkosh campus or school district and say,
'Will you pay us to use your gym?'"
Ald. William Siebers said the city is being "inconsistent" by cutting off
the $7,200 in maintenance costs for Little League and Babe Ruth baseball while
continuing the Foxes' subsidy.
Ald. Dennis Hendrickson said the $23,000 contribution should be considered a
"good business investment." Ald.
Paul Schreiter said that is not a "make-or-break amount" and should be
considered a contribution to the city's "quality of life".
"Board it up." Seriously?
That was a plan?
The land that is "valued at about $1 million and can be rented out at
$100,000 a year" on which stood Goodland Field? It
is now Nienhaus Field, a sports complex run by the Appleton Area
School District and used by Appleton West High School.
If you look back on this episode from 1987 and combine it with the "Should Fox
Cities Stadium be built? Should
Goodland Field be renovated? Should
they do nothing? Period of 1992-1994, sometimes it is a miracle that
professional baseball survived in the Fox Cities.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.