By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – The lease agreement for the owners of the Green Bay Booyah to use Capital Credit Union Park has already been changed less than a year after originally signed.
The stadium is now under construction and scheduled to host its first Northwoods League baseball game June 1.
Because of increased construction costs, initially estimated for the project at $10 million, Village Attorney Tony Wachewicz informed the Ashwaubenon village board Tuesday, Dec. 18, about additional negotiations and the amended agreement reached with Big Top Baseball, owner of the Booyah.
The multi-purpose facility being built on land just south of the village hall for baseball, soccer and other community events is being paid for with a combination of lease revenue from Big Top Baseball, which owns and operates the Booyah and three other Northwoods League baseball teams across Wisconsin, and Tax Incremental Financing revenues from other projects in the village.
“Essentially, they have agreed to increase their rental payments on an annual basis,” Wachewicz said.
Big Top Baseball, also known as Ashwaubenon Events, LLC, initially entered into a 20-year lease agreement with the option for three, one-year extensions to pay annual rent of $205,000 for the first five years with a 1 percent increase each year until the end of the agreement.
Under the amended agreement, the lease payments will be $260,000 in each of the first five years starting in 2019, then increasing to $265,000 in years 6-10 and $270,000 in years 11-20.
Wachewicz noted Big Top Baseball also agreed to the following changes:
• The village will no longer contribute $50,000 a year in the first five years to the maintenance fund.
• Big Top Baseball will spend at least $1 million in improvements to the stadium in years 5-20.
• The village’s obligation in capital improvements is reduced from $1 million to $750,000.
• The annual maintenance threshold is increased from $7,500 to $25,000 that Big Top Baseball will be responsible for with day-to-day maintenance and operations of the stadium and repairs, while it will be the village’s responsibility for capital improvements or large maintenance items greater than $25,000.
• The village will receive the proceeds from grants, if awarded.
In addition, Wachewicz said the village has agreed to support Big Top Baseball’s application for a liquor license.
Village Manager Allison Swanson said additional costs are being borne by the village because of the overall cost of the stadium, but a portion of cost overages is being shared by Big Top Baseball with the rent payments increasing “significantly.”
“They also, in another form of trying to bridge that gap, have also offered to defer what we would otherwise pay in maintenance, they will take on in maintenance,” she said.
Swanson said construction bids came in totaling $10.6 million, plus “soft costs” and furniture, some of which have not been purchased yet.
“Costs came in higher due to rapidly increasing construction costs and the short construction period we have due to the need to be completed by May 15, 2019,” she said. “There is also a contingency built into our overall budget. We have more confidence that this will not be needed based on how construction has proceeded to date. We continue to work on value engineering and review of interior materials to reduce costs.”
Big Top Baseball is moving the team next year to Capital Credit Union Park from Joannes Stadium, where the ball club was known for more than a decade as the Green Bay Bullfrogs, after efforts to build a new facility for the team in the city of Green Bay could not be finalized.
To go along with the move to Ashwaubenon, a contest took place this year when the Bullfrogs officially became the Booyah last month.
Plans for Capital Credit Union Park call for having a capacity of 3,359 for athletic events, room for 7,000-plus for concerts and community events and feature club and suite space for up to 300 guests. An artificial surface is planned for the field.
Capital Credit Union Park is reusing the old CTI Concrete building, a 17,000-square-foot warehouse located on the site prior to the village purchasing the land earlier this year.
That building is being renovated to include a team store, concessions, restrooms, suites, a club space, locker rooms, team office and a hotel lobby-style ticket office.