The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 20, 2014

Joplin City Council to hear baseball plan details

JOPLIN, Mo. — Proposed redevelopment plans for Joe Becker Stadium will be discussed with the Joplin City Council in a work session at the end of its regular meeting tonight.

The WLD Suarez partnership has obtained a franchise of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball that succeeds the El Paso (Texas) Diablos.

The City Council in January approved a lease agreement that will give Suarez the use of historic Joe Becker Stadium beginning in August. Suarez has started building parking lots around the stadium.

Under an agreement the council approved in February, the city will pay $4 million to enlarge and update the stadium for the team. The team owners will finance and build a new $5.3 million entry plaza at the stadium with an office and ticket booth, restaurants and lofts over the next few years, and will develop parking lots nearby.

Further details regarding formal agreements between the baseball group and the city are expected to be presented to the council today.

Additionally, representatives of the Suarez group are to announce the name that has been selected for the team after a two-month “Name the Team” contest was conducted in which residents were asked to submit their suggestions.

During its regular 6 p.m. session, the council will be asked to consider a $1.2 million loan from the city’s economic development fund to Able Manufacturing & Assembly. That fund uses the proceeds of property sales within the city’s industrial parks to provide financial assistance to companies.

The council earlier approved a letter of intent that allowed the city staff to negotiate terms of the loan.

Able Manufacturing is privately owned and employs 260 people with an annual payroll of $11.5 million.

Rob O’Brian, president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, told the council that the loan would be part of a $2.5 million investment in new equipment and changes to the plant to update the company’s ability to build equipment for clients.

Dan Hillenbrand, a member of the family that owns the company, told the council that the loan is of vital importance to the future of the company.

Terms of the loan call for repayment within five years, with an option to extend it for two years. Interest payments of 3.5 percent are to be made quarterly, with principal payments of $25,000 at the end of each year for three years, $50,000 the fourth year and the balance paid the fifth year, or $100,000 if the option is exercised.

Another contract, for assessment and cleaning of some of the storm sewer system in the tornado zone, is proposed for council action. The ordinance would approve a contract of $608,260 for Barlett & West Inc. to assess any damage in the lines and inlets, and inspect and clean 75,000 feet of pipe and 1,800 inlets. A subcontractor, ACE Pipe Cleaning, is to do the cleaning.

A contract with Sprouls Construction Co. for $76,282.50 is proposed for curb inlet repairs.

Litigation

A NOTICE IS POSTED on the agenda of a vote on whether the council will go into closed session to discuss a matter involving litigation.

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