California city’s attempt to evict team over $1-a-year lease heads to arbitration

How are things going with the city of Adelanto, California’s attempts to evict the High Desert Mavericks to get out of the terrible $1-a-year lease a previous administration agreed to in 2012? Not so great so far:

On Monday, a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge granted the team’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop the city from interfering with its use of the stadium while the dispute is resolved. The judge also granted its request to force the city into arbitration…

In a statement last month, Mayor Richard Kerr said the city’s financial situation is dire.

“Adelanto declared a fiscal crisis in 2013 and is still not in a position to continue to assume financial responsibility to pay for water, gas, electricity, landscaping and maintenance for the stadium the next seven months to accommodate the team’s schedule,” he said.

The issue at stake here is whether the $1-a-year lease amounts to a “gift” of public funds illegal under the California state constitution, an argument pursued occasionally in other state to try to block sports subsidies, but never so far successfully. For his part, Mavericks owner Dave Heller said that the team provides other intangibles to the city like improving quality of life, and said the $1 rent isn’t unreasonable because Adelanto is very small. All of which seems to come down to “You were dumb enough to offer us free rent in order to keep us from moving somewhere else, too late to complain about it.” I don’t know off the top of my head if the California state constitution has a “no backsies” clause, so we’ll just have to wait to see how this turns out.

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