Terms of El Paso ballpark deal differ with other Triple-A cities

POSTED: 06:33 PM MDT Jul 16, 2012    UPDATED: 11:21 AM MST Jan 14, 2014 
EL PASO, Texas -

Is the El Paso Triple-A baseball ownership group getting a sweet deal on the new downtown ballpark?

Or is it the El Paso baseball fan that's getting a sweet deal?

The ABC-7 I-Team compared agreements in other cities, speaking with the general manager of two Triple-A baseball clubs and the deputy city manager who negotiated the deal in El Paso.

"Our situation is a little bit different than yours," said Albuquerque Isotopes General Manager John Traub.

The Isotopes landed in Albuquerque in 2003 after, much like El Paso, the city lost affiliated baseball in 2000. The return was sparked by a $25 million total renovation of an existing ballpark and a new deal with the city.

"I think it's worked out very, very well for everybody," Traub said. "It's really been an idea example of a public-private partnership."

While the basic terms of El Paso's deal with the prospective team ownership group are a $200,000 a year lease with the city and a 10-cent surcharge on tickets, the terms of the Albuquerque deal are a bit different.

"Ours is $700,000 base rent plus a surcharge 10-percent basically across the board," Traub said. "It usually comes out to $1.6 or $1.9 or $2 million that we end up going back to the city every year."

City of El Paso Deputy City Manager Bill Studer said there is a reason for that.

"I think you've got to recognize, where does the ownership group of the albuquerque team get its $1.7 million?" Studer said. "It gets it by charging higher ticket prices and higher concession prices to the fans who come to the games. Albuquerque prices on tickets are relatively high, certainly higher than we would think our market would bear."

The walk-up ticket prices in Albquerque range from $13 to $25. A beer can cost you as much as $8.50.

"If we charge the team more, they will turn around and charge the fans more and we will see probably lower attendance at our games," Studer said. "If even the Pacific Coast League approves the team, that clearly is one of the considerations of the PCL approving El Paso as a venue for Triple-A baseball. They want to make sure the team succeeds here."

Rick Parr, general manager of the Reno Aces, told ABC-7 the City of Reno's deal with his team is similar to the El Paso deal. Parr said some deals can be so hard on team owners that fans are the ones that suffer, especially when the franchise fails. Both Parr and Traub said they think El Pasoans will realize the value of the deal when they step foot in the new ballpark on opening day.