New Yorkers about to pay more than $1m a year for Mets Triple-A team to stay in Syracuse

You want some shittier news? How about the New York Mets being on the verge of agreeing to an 18-year lease extension for their Syracuse Chiefs Triple-A team, just as soon as the city and state agree to $22.4 million in renovation subsidies?

[Onondaga County deputy executive Bill] Fisher said $8.5 million of the funding would come through bonding. At least another $3.6 million would be kicked in from the county and the Mets from stadium naming rights revenue (the current deal expires after 2025).

Fisher believes once the county locks in its approval, the state will toss in a dollar-for-dollar match of that $12.1 million foundation. That would bring the total pot to at least $24.2 million.

That’s a public expense of $1.24 million a year for each year the soon-to-be-remonikered Chiefs stay in town, which is between 8% and 33% of what some major-league franchises have extracted in terms of lease extensions — so you can either look at it that Syracuse cut a better deal than St. Petersburg did for the Tampa Bay Lightning, or that Syracuse spent a third as much as St. Pete did per year and only got a minor-league baseball team, not the NHL Atlantic Division champions.

Either way, I look forward to hearing how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will explain how keeping the Chiefs in Syracuse will totally be worth $12.1 million to the people of New York state, because of all the tourists the team draws in from, I guess, Vermont and Pennsylvania? Or maybe he’ll just raise his hands in victory over his head and declare, “Hey, at least we’re still better off than Worcester! Excelsior!”

Mets buy minor-league team from community owners, immediately demand $25m in stadium cash from community

I’ve already marveled this week at Worcester offering more than $100 million in subsidies to lure to town a Triple-A team that it could probably outright buy for $20 million, but no city would be dumb enough to sell a team it already owns and then offer subsidies to the new owners to keep it in town, right? Oh, ye of little faith:

Baseball fans can look forward to a major upgrade of Syracuse’s minor-league stadium if Onondaga County officials can pull together a renovation project that could cost $25 million or more.

The ambitious renovation, which depends on state funding that is not yet guaranteed, aims to make sure the new owners of the local Triple-A team, the New York Mets, stay in Syracuse for the long term.

Okay, the Syracuse Chiefs weren’t actually owned by Onondaga County; they were owned by a community public corporation, much like the Green Bay Packers. But the corporation agreed to sell the team to the New York Mets owners last year, and nobody thought to include a lease extension as part of the deal, meaning the team could now leave town as soon as 2025. (Yes, the whole point of the Mets buying the Chiefs was to have a Triple-A team close to their big-league club, but there’s no stopping them from looking for the next Worcester elsewhere in the Northeast.) And so now the county is looking at renovating the team’s stadium to keep its new owners happy, because, in the memorable words of county chair Ryan McMahon: “The reality is, we can’t keep a Triple-A baseball team [here] with a 25-year-old facility.”

And as the cherry on top, Empire State Development, New York state’s economic development agency, is looking at getting involved, which could mean state taxpayers — including those all the way south in New York City, including yours truly — could soon be on the hook for subsidies to keep a team from leaving Syracuse. Maybe I shouldn’t have been quite so sanguine about the promise of community ownership, huh?