SOUTH BEND – The South Bend Parks Department approves a lease deal that will keep the South Bend Silver Hawks in the city for 20 years.
Current owner, Joe Kernan, said with the new lease terms in place, it will help the process when he travels to Dallas next week to meet with major league baseball to get approval to sell the team to Chicago White Sox investor Andrew Berlin.
Berlin also proposed millions of dollars in improvements to the stadium that will keep the Silver Hawks in town and will put more money in South Bend's pocket.
The new agreement includes an annual $75,000 payment from the Silver Hawks and an attendance bonus where the city could receive an extra $0.25 per head if actual attendance is between 125,000 to 175,000. The amount increases to $0.50 if attendance is between 175,000 to 199,000.
The city will earn an extra dollar per head if attendance exceeds 200,000 a season. This is a 20 year commitment broken down into four, five year deals.
WSBT was told there is no performance, financial or attendance outs allowing Berlin and the team to leave the city.
“The reason the city wanted the commitments adding up to 20 years allows them to share in more revenues from the team,” said Andrew Berlin who is trying to buy the Silver Hawks. “Right now the team is not successful and we’re not drawing people to the park. Right now the team is losing money.”
About an hour ago, Berlin showed several renderings to the board members. The improvements will make the park more family friendly and modern.
Berlin said he is willing to make a seven figure investment out of his own pocket on top of the $1.75 million from the downtown Tax District or TIF dollars.
Park board members approved the new lease deal. Now the deal needs approval from the redevelopment board.
The ownership change needs to be approved by the Major League Baseball and Midwest League which he anticipates next week.