Voyagers requesting stadium rent forgiveness for 2020

City Commissioners will consider a request from the Great Falls Baseball Club, also known as the Voyagers, to forgive their 2020 stadium rent of $10,648.

The Voyagers season was canceled due to COVID-19 but the club hosted community events, fundraisers and legion baseball games at Centene Stadium.

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“With those restrictions the Great Falls Baseball Club saw revenues decline by over 90 percent,” according to a letter from Scott Reasoner, club president. “The Great Falls Voyagers could not be more appreciative of our long partnership with the City of Great Falls and the city’s willingness to work together through all things to keep professional baseball in our community. We do not take a gesture such as rent forgiveness lightly and will always strive to be a place of civic pride and a gathering place for our citizens each and every summer.”

He wrote that he’d met with city officials over the summer and had discussed that Billings and Missoula were not charging rent for use of their stadiums for minor league baseball.

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The forgiveness of the stadium rent takes the anticipated $10,648 from the city’s general fund, but staff are recommending approval of the request.

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Reasoner is board chair of the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, which has been vocal in its opposition of the city using downtown tax increment financing funds, which if the TIF district didn’t exist would be in the city’s general fund, for the repair of the Civic Center and have requested that the city use those funds for private development.

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Reasoner wrote in his letter to the city that the club maintained a full grounds staff for the legion games, and offered use of the stadium at a discounted rate for community groups and events.

The Voyagers are anticipating playing a 2021 season at the stadium.

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The city and the baseball club entered into a 50 year agreement in 1996 for Centene Stadium. The agreement requires an annual rent paid to the city on or before Nov. 1. The lease is on a fixed rent stepped increase, so the annual rent increased 10 percent every five years, according to the city. From 1999-2019, the club has made their annual rent payment, according to the city.