As it stands now, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans minor league baseball team does not have an agreement to play its home games in Myrtle Beach next season.
The initial 20-year lease between the Pelicans, the City of Myrtle Beach and Horry County for the use of Pelicans Ballpark expires at the end of this season, which concludes Monday at Frederick.
The Pelicans, the advanced single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, play their final two homes games of the season Wednesday and Thursday against Buies Creek.
City officials and Pelicans managing partner Chuck Greenberg are attempting to get a three-year lease extension approved by Myrtle Beach City Council over the next month. It passed a first reading of two required readings on Aug. 28 and the second reading is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 11.
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The parties intend to use the three years to create another long-term lease.
“We love having the Pelicans in the community and want them to stay,” assistant city manager Fox Simons said.
Under the expiring lease agreement, the city owns 70 percent of the stadium and the county owns 30 percent, and they own the property that contains the stadium in the same percentage, according to Myrtle Beach city spokesperson Mark Kruea.
Kruea said the property was purchased from Myrtle Beach Farms in 1998 under a sales agreement that included a $1 per year lease term until 2002, when the deed was recorded.
The city and Horry County covered the majority of the tab for the $12 million stadium when it was constructed in 1998, with then-team owner Capitol Broadcasting Co. chipping in $1 million plus up to $700,000 for a roof and construction overruns.
The city’s last debt payment on the stadium is in September, according to a submission to city council.
Greenberg, who resides in Texas, purchased the team through Greenberg Sports Group in 2006. He was at the Aug. 28 city council meeting.
If the current lease is extended, a key to agreeing on another long-term lease will be the findings and suggestions of an architectural firm that will be hired to help develop a modernization plan for the stadium.
The parties will then decide what changes will be made and who will pay for them. “We’ve got an agreement with the team to do the architectural study of the stadium to modernize it and use that as a basis for a long-term lease,” Simons said. “The goal is to get that stadium more 2018 than 1998.”
The city and county have been responsible for the maintenance of the stadium, though the team has been responsible for some upkeep. Greenberg said there are no specific structural concerns for the stadium.
“It has been a great park,” Greenberg said. “The city has done a great job of maintaining it and we’ve done a great job of upgrading it.
“We work really hard to have a sustainable business . . . and as an ownership group we’re very skilled at spending money. We never miss an opportunity to spend money on our fans or the quality of the show or the operations. We’ve been proud to invest in the ballpark, the operations and the community and we’re going to continue to do that.”
Greenberg said the Pelicans have spent nearly $4 million on park changes and improvements under his ownership, including renovations of the clubhouses and installation of a beach setting down the left-field line.
Under the lease, the team pays the city and county rent equal to 4 percent of adjusted gross revenues in excess of $3.25 million, and Greenberg said there is a minimum base payment. In 2017, the team paid its landlords $61,525, according to the submission to city council.
The city and county earn additional revenue through other stadium event rentals, such as for concerts and other baseball games. But the Pelicans are the primary tenant and could be for at least another 20 years.
“It’s just a matter of buying time to get advice from some really good professionals on things we ought to consider so the ballpark is as prepared for the next two decades as it was for the first two decades,” Greenberg said. “Once we see what the possibilities are we’ll talk about it and see what makes sense.”