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Reno Faces Choice of Baseball or Budget

The Reno, Nev., City Council will discuss at its Dec. 12 meeting a tentative plan to provide a $30 million subsidy spread over 30 years to help the owners of the Reno Aces, its local minor league baseball team, refinance their stadium development debt.

City leaders are weighing the possible financial repercussions of the team leaving town if it secures a better offer against a shrunken city budget that now funds a third less of the city staff than it did in 2007, according to a report from the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The council, which includes newly-elected members, delayed a decision on the agreement at last month's meeting.

The money would help the Aces owners refinance a $55 million construction loan owed to Deutsche Bank.

Officials are concerned that if they strike the agreement, the city's general fund rating could be downgraded at some point in the future if it can't afford to make the annual subsidy because the Aces ownership plans to issue debt tied to the subsidy, the report said. Under the agreement, the city would have to reapprove the $1 million subsidy every year.

The agreement also includes a $500,000 annual subsidy from Washoe County and a $1.5 million annual contribution from the Aces ownership. Some of the financing would also come from a ticket tax.

Reno's general fund revenue has declined nearly 20% since its peak in 2007, according to the news report.

The ballpark was originally financed with help from a $20.5 million 2007 Washoe County bond issue backed by taxes on rental cars.

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