Joplin’s mayor says he isn’t breaking rules by convening meeting with Blasters

Joplin’s mayor says he isn’t breaking rules by convening meeting with Blasters

Update: We just received word from Mayor Seibert that tonight’s city council meeting with the Blasters will be a work session. A special city council session will take place Wednesday to vote on whether or not the Blasters’ newest lease proposal should be approved.

Members of Joplin’s city council are meeting tonight at 6 to hear a last-minute proposal to save the Blasters baseball team. The Blasters have been trying to renegotiate their contract with the city since the team’s season wrapped up last year. The city owns Joe Becker Stadium, where the Blasters play.

Joplin’s mayor says negotiations with the Blasters have gone on too long.

“Its been a long process. It’s a longer one than I think any of us, in hindsight, would’ve wanted or would’ve expected,” says Mayor Mike Seibert.

The Mayor says the baseball team’s latest contract proposal is one the city should accept, though the proposal goes against what at least one other council member wants. Last week, Councilman Bill Scearce proposed the team pay 30 percent of utilities at Joe Becker Stadium, during times the Blasters are using the stadium. Scearce says it’s a fair owner/tenant business relationship.

“That represented about an additional 10 thousand dollars in expenses to the Blasters,” says Seibert.

According to Mayor Seibert, the Blasters only want to pay utilities when average attendance per game reaches 15 hundred, a number the mayor says would also let the Blasters break-even for expense to profit. According to the Mayor, the Blasters’ average attendance per game last year was only one thousand.

“They want to grow their attendance and I think that’s a realistic goal for them to have on average, paid attendance. Hopefully weekends, we have a lot more in attendance,” says Seibert.

The Mayor says bottom line, the team is an investment that will hopefully become a profit.

“We wanted to hold the costs down as they build up their attendance base,” says Seibert.

We also asked the Mayor if he’s heard whether or not team owners plan on making any ticket marketing changes. He said he will let team owners talk about that, probably after a new lease has been signed.

Does tonight’s meeting break any rules?

It appears the legality of having a city council meeting tonight is up for debate among city council members themselves, at least for the time being. Some city council members say the deadline for the Blasters to either sign or not sign a new contract with the city has already passed. Last week, a 5 pm deadline today was given to the Blasters. But Joplin’s mayor says that deadline has already been met by the Blasters, making tonight’s meeting at 6 a total go.

“Last week, we received notification from the Blasters with a counter-offer. So, that met the criteria of hearing from the Blasters by 5 o’clock. They didn’t have to sign the agreement by 5 o’clock,” says Seibert.

We tried to get an official transcript of the deadline that was passed from city council to the Blasters last week. Joplin’s city clerk said the transcript of the entire city council meeting was still being worked on.