Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bexar County Approves Deal to Buy Toyota Field; City Council Decision Next

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 6:56 AM

The Bexar County Commissioner's Court approved a deal yesterday to buy Toyota Field. - COURTESY SAN ANTONIO SCORPIONS
  • Courtesy San Antonio Scorpions
  • The Bexar County Commissioner's Court approved a deal yesterday to buy Toyota Field.

Toyota Field is now just a City Council vote away from changing hands — and perhaps bringing San Antonio closer to fielding a Major League Soccer team.

Bringing a team to town is still a long way off though, and questions linger about the plan to lure an MLS franchise and how much more public money will be spent to do so. (Read more about the efforts to lure an MLS team to San Antonio in this week's issue.)

The Bexar County Commissioner’s Court approved a deal yesterday for the County to jointly purchase Toyota Stadium with the City of San Antonio for $18 million. The deal is still pending approval of the City Council, which will consider the matter on Thursday, November 12.

Each municipal entity will pay Gordon Hartman, owner of Toyota Field and the San Antonio Scorpions, $9 million. Spurs Sports and Entertainment will also pay Hartman $3 million.

The deal requires the City and County to lease the stadium to Spurs Sports and Entertainment for an as yet undecided amount of money. The group will also manage and operate the stadium, and pay $1 million for improvements. The City and County will pay $500,000 each for improvements.

Spurs Sports and Entertainment’s takeover is meant to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to San Antonio. The group has six years to do so before it has to start paying a $5 million penalty to the City and County. The penalty would be paid out over eight years.

In the meantime, Spurs Sports and Entertainment plans to field a team in the third-tier United Soccer League, leaving the Scorpions, which play in the second-tier North American Soccer League, in limbo.

Once the final terms of the plan are set, Spurs Sports and Entertainment will propose a business plan and a calendar of milestones to keep track of its franchise recruitment.

When and if that happens, Toyota Field will have to be expanded by roughly 10,000 seats. Although the stadium was built with expansion in mind, the price tag could top $40 million. To meet the need, “the City and County would then conduct an election for the expansion expenses,” according to a news release. 

One of the biggest winners in all this? Hartman and the children who go to Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first theme park for special-needs kids. The money from the sale will go directly to Morgan’s Wonderland, which recently announced plans to build a waterpark.

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