The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League is interested in using Cantine Field as a home base, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Greg Chorvas reported at the Town Board’s May 8 meeting.
The Town Board quickly approved a resolution authorizing Chorvas to contract with the league for the use of Field Number 11.
“When we were awarded the grant for the [baseball field] lights we had a conversation about how long this would take,” said Councilman Fred Costello. “I think this was beyond our expectations.”
The town has received a $70,000 grant towards professional-quality lights at one of its baseball diamonds. Town officials have said that the lack of lights has been the main reason teams have not followed up their interest.
“I think they [the league] were just waiting in the wings,” Chorvas said.
One reason for the attractiveness of Saugerties’s ball fields is the large amount of volunteer work that has gone into them. Saugerties residents have built amenities at the fields, often raising the money to pay for the materials themselves, Costello said.
The league is “the largest in the country; it is an offshoot from the old New York Collegian Baseball League,” Chorvas said. “Since 1999 we’ve had four inquiries – three from the collegiate level and one from minor league baseball, and of course the roadblock has always been the lighting.”
In the process of negotiating for a franchise, “the roles are reversed; the shoe is on the other foot. We now have the lights and we can set our policies and we can set our fees,” Chorvas said. “I threw out a high number for them as a negotiating point, but we didn’t have to negotiate. Basically, that facility use fee is $75,000 over the five-year lease payable in increments of $15,000 a year. With that we can do improvements and upgrades, such as with the restroom facilities that are needed on the field. The grandstand building was erected as a public works project, a WPA project back in the 1930s, and a building of that nature requires maintenance. Having said that, with the combination of the facility use fee and the field improvement fund, I am fully confident that that field will become self-supporting just like we’re going to make the summer day camp self-supporting, and just as we made the ice arena self-supporting.”
Chorvas predicted that the field would draw good crowds and there should be a good economic “domino effect into the community and especially the region.”
The field would attract college players from outside the immediate area, Chorvas said. “Their main draw is going to be from outside of this area – the Northeast, and they are looking as far south as Virginia.”
“We can get a small sense of the economic impact… Babe Ruth has hosted parts of its tournament here and the Little Leagues have hosted, and it creates a lot of economic activity,” Costello said. “People are coming to the area, they are eating at restaurants, they are staying at hotels, and it gives people who may not have come to Saugerties before an opportunity to see what we enjoy on a daily basis.”
Chorvas described the acquisition of the franchise as a team effort that involved the Town Board, the Recreation Committee and countless volunteers.
The contract calls for close collaboration between the American Legion team in Saugerties and the collegiate team to avoid scheduling conflicts. While the contract specifies that such conflicts should be rare, it specifies that the town would be responsible for working them out. However, in general the town should play a relatively small role.
The lease runs from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2018, with an option for an additional five years.
The detailed contract also covers operation of the concession stand, scheduling, practice time for the teams that use the field, maintenance and office space for the league.